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:
- Ayonga: There 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.
- Mo Hasibagen: Homeland of Wolves and Songs. Also translated from the Mongolian by Ha Sen.
- 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.
- Alat Asem: Pearl Agate. A Uyghur from Xinjiang, he writes in both Chinese and Uyghur. Author of Confessions of a Jade Lord, translated by Bruce Humes and Jun Liu.
- 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.
- Yerkex Hurmanbek (aka Yerkesy Hulmanbiek): A Village Family. She is an ethnic Kazakh. Author of Eternal Lamb, translated by Nicky Harman.
- 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.
- 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.