Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast: Q & A with Translator of “Last Quarter of the Moon”

Angus Stewart recently interviewed me about translating Chi Zijian’s novel that chronicles the tragic twilight of the reindeer-herding, Tungusic-speaking Evenki of northeastern China. The tale has since been translated into several languages, including French, Japanese and Swedish.

You can find the podcast here:

Episode 42 of the Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast

Ep 65 – Ge Fei and The Invisibility Cloak with Giray Fidan and Rauno Sainio The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast

The best attributes of anyone or anything usually reside on the surface, which is where, in fact, all of us live out our lives In the sixty fifth episode of The Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast we are swathing ourselves in The Invisibility Cloak (隐身衣 / Yǐnshēn Yī). Languishing with me in the peace and pain of relative obscurity are Giray Fidan and Rauno Sainio, two translators of the book’s author: Ge Fei, an imperceptible fabulist and three-time subject of this very show. I still haven’t figured him out, and I’m sure he’d be glad of it. – // NEWS ITEMS // ACA Publishing/Sinoist Books bags an English PEN translation grant for The Sacred Clan by Liang Hong New book: The Artisans by Shen Fuyu, translated by Jeremy Tiang Chinese student writes Marxism dissertation on Warhammer 40K Lemony Snicket’s new book has a cameo from Pu Songling and John Minford – // PHRASES OF THE DAY // (太阳还好端端的在天上挂着呢! – Tàiyáng hái hǎoduānduān dì zài tiānshàng guà zhene – And the sun is still hanging right up there in the sky!) (安居乐业 – Ānjūlèyè – To live in peace, and work happily) – // MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE // I Found My Mind in Connecticut – Cage La Follia – Vivaldi Men Without Women by Haruki Murkami The Time Regulation Institute by Ahmet Hamdi Tampinar Naked CEO Grant Horsfield and his Moganshan resort The Altaic language family and its syntax – // Handy TrChFic Links // The TrChFic mailing list Episode Transcripts Help Support TrChFic The TrChFic Map INSTAGRAM // TWITTER // DISCORD // HOMEPAGE
  1. Ep 65 – Ge Fei and The Invisibility Cloak with Giray Fidan and Rauno Sainio
  2. Ep 64 – Chen Qiufan and Coming of the Light with Francesco Verso
  3. Ep 63 – Murong Xuecun and Dancing Through Red Dust with Harvey Tomlinson
  4. Ep 62 – Liu Cixin and The Wandering Earth with Jairo Morales
  5. Ep 61 – Chen Xiwo and The Book of Sins with Nicky Harman

如果你正在中国,这链接可能更合适: Episode 42 of the Translated Chinese Fiction Podcast

As it is a fairly long interview, I’ve noted several of the themes and when they occur. No guarantee that you can “pick and choose,” but here they are in case you are able to do so on your smartphone or PC:

0.13: Q & A begins
0:17 Turkic languages
0:19 Overview of Evenki within multi-ethnic China
0:23 Treaty of Nerchinsk
0:27 China’s 56 official “minzu”
0.33 Nomadic lifestyle of reindeer-herding Evenki
0:39 Arrival of the Han & their lumberjacks
0:42 As ecological novel
0:45 Eco-feminism
0:49 Female Shamans
0.53 Magical realism
1:09 Gu Tao’s documentaries
1:12 Disaffection of the new generation of Evenki
1:14 Chi Zijian’s background
1:19 Han author, Evenki first-person narrator
1:21 Narrator’s language
1:25 Soviet crackdown on Shamanism
1:26 End of Shamanistic tradition
1:28 Impact of the China Writers Association
1:32 Irony of party-driven collectivization
1:36. Doomed romance between narrator’s mother and the Shaman
1:39 Cultural taboos
1:44 Various titles of the novel in translation
1:50 Translating Evenki terms
2:00 Multilingual glossaries
2:03 Han, Chinese and “Wolf Totem”
2:10 Word of the day: Urireng
2:14 Chi Zijian’s use of Evenki vocabulary

Related reading:

Author’s Afterword

Northern Hunting Culture

Evenki place names behind the hanzi

In the Arctic, Reindeer Are Sustenance and a Sacred Presence

Various versions of the novel: Chinese; Dutch; English; French; Italian; Japanese; Korean; Spanish; Swedish

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