About Bruce Humes (徐穆实)

Welcome to the blog that I launched in 2009, and have hosted since. Granted, it has undergone a number of iterations — Ethnic Chinalit: Writing by & about non-Han Peoples, Altaic Storytelling, and more recently, 非漂 [Fēi Piāo] — but 300+ original posts can still be found here.

After several years of literary translation (see here), my current focus is on the Silk Road. Doubtless President-for-life Xi Jinping would approve, given this dovetails nicely with his One Belt, One Road initiative. In 2021, I have been commissioned to bring <我心归处是敦煌> to life in English. This is the autobiography of the Screen Shot 2021-01-10 at 6.52.22 PMtenacious female archaeologist, Fan Jinshi (樊锦诗), who grew up in China’s modern megalopolises of Beijing and Shanghai, but devoted her career — effectively opting to live and work in the remote desert for more than five decades — to the preservation and documentation of the Buddhist-themed Mogao Caves in Dunhuang, Gansu Province.

Last year, I translated Professor H.K. Chang’s Silk Road Cultures: 15 Lectures <丝路文明: 15 讲> . Topics included: Zhang Qian Pioneers Exploration of the ‘Western Regions’ (張騫鑿空與漢代的西域), Kumarajiva Supervises Translation of the Buddhist Canon (鳩摩羅什主持譯經), Sogdians on the Silk Road (來自河中地區的粟特人), Paper-making Know-how Migrates West (紙術西傳), Islam’s Debut in the Middle Kingdom (伊斯蘭教入華), Rise of the Turkophone Tujüe (突厥的崛起與西遷), and Maritime and Land-based Communications under the Mongols (蒙元時期的海陸交通) — 15 lectures in all.

Me in Tainan, one day biking in the wetlands leading to Pacific Ocean shore

I will be gradually adding detail to this page, but in the meantime if you want to contact me, please click here.

Like to learn more about my published literary translations — including full-length books and magazine articles — as well as synopses and  excerpts for marketing use? Click here.

My (serendipitous) Timeline

2020-21

  •  My tourist visa kindly extended to its limit of 180 days, I leave Corona Era Paradise — Taiwan, which has seen just 7 deaths — for Erdoğanistan, oops, Turkey. At that time in 3Q 2020, to attract tourists neither Corona test results nor quarantine were required upon entry. After a month or so in lovely Istanbul, I move to a tiny and charming seaside town on the Aegean, and get down to the work at hand: Translating the autobiography of female archaeologist Fan Jinshi (我心归处是敦煌), who devoted 50+ years to the preservation and documentation of the Buddhist-themed Mogao Caves at Dunhuang . . . and my on-again-off-again Turkish studies.

2018

  • Instead of my customary visa run — Tainan-Penang (台南 — 槟郎屿) or Tainan-Kuching (台南 — 古晋) — I opt instead to check out Dar es Salaam (坦桑尼亚的达累斯萨拉姆) in East Africa. Very hospitable, the Tanzanians, and I enjoy my brief study of Swahili, a Bantu language that is the national tongue of the DRC, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. My choice of a tutor from Kenya, however, brings wry smiles to the face of many a Dar es Salaamite, doubtless due to this adage: Swahili was born in Zanzibar, grew up in Tanzania, fell sick in Kenya, died in Uganda and was buried in Congo.

2013-14

  • Since the authorities have made learning Uyghur in its spiritual homeland (Xinjiang’s Kashgar, 喀什) impossible, I study elementary Turkish in Istanbul. Both Turkic tongues, Uyghur and Turkish share similar sentence structure and vocabulary. Useful in translating Uyghur author Alat Asem’s Confessions of a Jade Lord.

2013

  • Published: My translation of Last Quarter of the Moon (额尔古纳河右岸), Chi Zijian’s account of the tragic 20th-century twilight of the reindeer-herding Evenki in the Greater Khingan Mountains of Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang.

2001

  • Robbed by a knife-wielding thug in Shenzhen, I awake in a hospital hallway where staff advise amputating my right hand. Immediately. I decline, protesting that I intend to keep it for future use.

2000

  • Browsing in 季风书店 bookstore at Shanghai’s Shaanxi Subway Station entrance, I buy a copy of 上海宝贝 (Shanghai Baby) featuring cover selfie of Wei Hui’s sultry lips.  My rendition becomes a best-seller in Hong Kong and Singapore.

1992

  • Supervise English-to-Chinese translation of 世界经人理文摘 (World Executive’s Digest) — now a popular online portal — China’s first monthly management magazine not targeting lobotomized party cadres.

1978

  • Arrive in Taipei all hyped up about my China adventure, only to discover that Ilha Formosa ain’t exactly the People’s Republic. But it is under martial law, it is a one-party state, and several famous dissident writers are in prison.

1969

  • Mum teaches me elementary German that summer using 1st-year university textbook. My first reads not long after: Hesse’s Siddhartha & excerpts from Lutherbibel.