Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and his “The Perfect Nine”: Now Slated for Future Translation into Chinese?

April 14, 2021 Update: Writer’s Literary Agent Confirms that a China Publisher has Bought the Rights to Translate and Publish <The Perfect Nine> in Chinese

Reports the Guardian:

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o has become the first writer to be nominated for the International Booker prize as both author and translator of the same book, and the first nominee writing in an indigenous African language.

The 83-year-old Kenyan and perennial Nobel favourite is among 13 authors nominated for the award for best translated fiction, a £50,000 prize split evenly between author and translator. Thiong’o is nominated as writer and translator of The Perfect Nine, a novel-in-verse described by the judges as “a magisterial and poetic tale about women’s place in a society of gods”, and written in the Bantu language Gikuyu.

Typically, much of the fiction that ends up in Chinese translation does so only when it has been shortlisted for, or actually wins a major literary prize in the West, such as the Nobel Prize for Literature. 

Granted, at this point Ngũgĩ ‘s rendition of the Gikuyu epic has only been long-listed. But 7 of his works have already made it into the Chinese, a feat so far exceeded by just one sub-Saharan black author, Chinua Achebe of Nigeria. Thanks to several fairly recent translations, the phenomenally popular Chimamanda Adichie is now also just one shy of that mark. Visit the bilingual 非洲文学:中文译本 African Writing in Chinese Translation, and scroll down to “N” for Ngũgĩ to access a full list of those titles.

The mini-database currently lists 241 works by 101 African writers.   

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