“Multi-ethnic” Literature: Yilin’s 2020 Cache of Fiction by non-Han Writers

As your year-end holiday lockdown fast approaches, it’s worth noting a new series of books by non-Han writers launched this year by one of China’s best-known publishers, Yilin Press — lit., “translation forest” — that is normally associated with marketing popular foreign-language fiction in Mandarin for Chinese readers.

The name of the series itself, Library of Contemporary Classics by China’s Multi-ethnic Writers (中国当代多民族经典作家文库), is notable because it employs the term “multi-ethnic” rather than the former very politically correct, ubiquitous reference to “minority ethnic” literature (少数民族文学) that must surely have rankled some.

I will write more about the worrisome outlook for mother-tongue, multi-ethnic literature out of China — given moves to severely restrict education in Uyghur, Tibetan and Mongolian, and the ongoing incarceration of hundreds of thousands of Turkophone people in Xinjiang — but for now, here are the titles in Yilin’s new series (so far available only in Chinese) with a bit of background info and links:

阿云嘎 《天上没有铁丝网》(哈森译)

  • AyongaThere is no barbed wire in the sky. Translated by Ha Sen. Ayonga writes in Mongolian, and is also the author of Mamba Rasang, translated by Jim Weldon.

莫·哈斯巴根《有狼有歌的故乡》(哈森译)

  • Mo Hasibagen: Homeland of Wolves and Songs. Also translated from the Mongolian by Ha Sen.

艾克拜尔·米吉提《我的苏莱曼不见了》

  • Aikebai’er Mijiti (aka Ikebair Mijiti): My Soleiman is Gone. The author is ethnic Kazakh, and his works have been translated into Russian in Kazakhstan, where he has also been awarded prizes.

阿拉提·阿斯木《珍珠玛瑙》

扎西达娃《谜样的黄昏》

  • Tashi Dawa (aka Zhaxi Dawa): Enigmatic Twilight. Of mixed Han and Tibetan ancestry, this controversial author has held several senior posts in China’s literary bureaucracy.

叶尔克西·胡尔曼别克《一个村庄的家》

  • Yerkex Hurmanbek (aka Yerkesy Hulmanbiek): A Village Family. She is an ethnic Kazakh. Author of Eternal Lamb, translated by Nicky Harman.

吉狄马加《迟到的挽歌》

  • Jidi Majia: The Late Elegy. A poet who is a member of the Yi-Nuosu of Sichuan, and one of the very few China-born bards to be translated into Kiswahili.

次仁罗布《强盗酒馆》

万玛才旦《气球》

  • Pema Tseden: Balloon. Much-published Tibetan cineast and author who writes in both Chinese and Tibetan.  His Balloon recently began showing at theatres in China.
Note to interested translators/agents/publishers: For foreign language rights info, contact wangyuqiang@yilin.com

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