Altaic Peoples & Tales (阿尔泰各民族及其故事) Last Quarter of the Moon (额尔古纳河右岸)

“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

1,800+ Evenki place names: many inspired by Russian, Mongolian and Manchu

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?

Last Quarter of the Moon (额尔古纳河右岸)

“A la orilla derecha del Río Argún”: Spanish Rendition of Chi Zijian’s《额尔古纳河右岸》Published

The Spanish-language edition of Chi Zijian’s 20th-century saga of the Evenki, 《额尔古纳河右岸》, is now for sale A la orilla derecha del Rio Argunonline in China (  Co-translated by Xu Yingfeng (徐颖丰) and Fernando Esteban Sema, A la orilla derecha del Río Argún joins my English translation, Last Quarter of the Moon, Ultimo quarto di luna (Italian), and Het laatste kwartier van de maan (Dutch), all of which have been published. Sur la rive droite de l’Argoun will be out in French by 4Q 2016. The Turkish edition is now being translated.

Happily, the Spanish version is the first to use a direct translation of the title from the Chinese, i.e., The Right Bank of the Argun. I argued for the same in English, but Harvill Secker opted to follow the previously published Italian translation which ignored the Chinese title in favor of the quarter moon “theme.” What a pity!

Narrated in the first person by the aged wife of the last chieftain of an Evenki clan, the novel is a moving tale of the decline of reindeer-herding nomads in the sparsely populated, richly forested mountains that border on Russia.