Altaic Storytelling: What We’re Reading Now (2017.5)

A few years back I read a longish, semi-autobiographical novel by Guo Xuebo (郭雪波), who was raised in the Horchin Grasslands of Inner Mongolia (科尔沁草原) and is a native speaker of Mongolian. Entitled 《蒙古里亚》— an attempt to replicate the sound of “Mongolia” in Chinese, I assume — it comprises three distinct narratives that are intricately … Continue reading Altaic Storytelling: What We’re Reading Now (2017.5)

“Le Dernier Quartier de Lune”: French version of Chi Zijian’s ode to the Evenki to launch in September

In September 2016, the French rendition of Chi Zijian’s 《额尔古纳河右岸》will join several previously published foreign language editions including Dutch (Het laatste kwartier van de maan); English (Last Quarter of the Moon); Italian (Ultimo quarto di Luna); Japanese (アルグン川の右岸) , and Spanish (A la orilla derecha del Río Argún). Le Dernier Quartier de Lune is co-translated … Continue reading “Le Dernier Quartier de Lune”: French version of Chi Zijian’s ode to the Evenki to launch in September

Reclaiming the Evenki Narrative: Last Shaman’s Daughter Tells her People’s 20th-century Tale

There are only 30,000 or so Evenki (鄂温克族) on the Chinese side of the Sino-Russian border. But this Tungusic-speaking, reindeer-herding people — particularly the group known as the Aoluguya Evenki — has been the subject of several award-winning documentaries and even a novel that won the Mao Dun Literature Prize in 2008. According to an … Continue reading Reclaiming the Evenki Narrative: Last Shaman’s Daughter Tells her People’s 20th-century Tale

List: Modern China-based Evenki Authors & Their Published Works

* Under Construction * Modern China-based Evenki Authors & Their Published Works   This list is based mainly on authors published in 2015 in 《新时期中国少数民族文学作品选集·鄂温克族卷》(lit, Selected Fiction by Ethnic Minority Writers in the New Period, Evenki Volume, at left), but I've added in many of their other published short stories and novels. All links are to … Continue reading List: Modern China-based Evenki Authors & Their Published Works

Fiction Collections from Daur, Evenki and Oroqen Writers Launched

Three separate volumes of fiction in Chinese have just been published featuring the works of writers of three ethnic groups that have traditionally inhabited northeastern China and even further north in Siberia: the Daur, Evenki and Oroqen (Elunchun). This is of interest because unlike ethnic groups like the Tibetans, Uyhgurs or Mongolians, none of the … Continue reading Fiction Collections from Daur, Evenki and Oroqen Writers Launched

Excerpt of the Week: The Nightjar at Dusk (黄昏夜莺)

So now the escapee nightjar and I were conspirators. I had to stay patient and play my part in its plot. We stood a while longer, though of course the urgent call did not sound. But the boy stood there motionless, gazing up at the spot where the bird had once perched. He already had … Continue reading Excerpt of the Week: The Nightjar at Dusk (黄昏夜莺)

Mongolian Shaman Songs of Praise Rendered in Chinese

Two poets have collaborated to publish a book containing 29 renditions of songs of praise traditionally chanted by shaman. The original odes in Mongolian were first translated into Mandarin by Mongolian scholar Ni Ma (尼玛), and then polished by Xi Murong (席慕蓉), who also knows Mongolian but was educated in Taiwan. The book is published … Continue reading Mongolian Shaman Songs of Praise Rendered in Chinese

Profile of Octogenarian Orochen: Folk Song Singer, Folk Tale and Dictionary Compiler

Among one of the first batches of young Orochen (鄂伦春) chosen to receive a formal Chinese-language education in Zhalantun in 1948, E’erdenggua (额尔登挂) was just 17 at the time. She had never been outside her village on the banks of Chuo’er River (绰尔河畔) in Inner Mongolia, and didn’t speak a word of Chinese. Now 84, … Continue reading Profile of Octogenarian Orochen: Folk Song Singer, Folk Tale and Dictionary Compiler

Interrupted Traditions of “Altishahr,” Oasis Towns Ringing the Taklimakan Desert in Xinjiang

In Wall Street Journal’s interview with Rian Thum, author of The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History, we learn that a century ago Uyghur in the Altishahr region (lit. “six cities”) traditionally visited shrines where the history of a local Islamic saint was read out loud to visitors. Question posed by Wall Street Journal is bolded, … Continue reading Interrupted Traditions of “Altishahr,” Oasis Towns Ringing the Taklimakan Desert in Xinjiang

“Last Quarter of the Moon”: Evenki Place Names behind the Hànzì

I grew up in places with names like “Winnetka” and “Sewickley,” spellings no doubt based on mangled transliterations of old, even ancient Native American words. I vaguely recall that Sewickley meant “sweet water,” but no one seemed sure. How many cities, mountains and rivers in China, I wondered, hide their non-Han origins? Evenki Mountain Name … Continue reading “Last Quarter of the Moon”: Evenki Place Names behind the Hànzì