Categories
Last Quarter of the Moon (额尔古纳河右岸)

“Last Quarter of the Moon”: Readers Speak Out

An admittedly quirky collection — selected by me — of unedited online reviews of my translation of Chi Zijian’s 额尔古纳河右岸 (Last Quarter of the Moon). Not to worry. They aren’t all glowing recommendations. . .

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Beautifully written, but depressing as fuck. (full text)

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It is an atmospheric modern folk-tale, the saga of the Evenki clan of Inner Mongolia – nomadic reindeer herders whose traditional life alongside the Argun river endured unchanged for centuries, only to be driven almost to extinction during the political upheavals of the 20th century. (full text) 

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Don’t let anyone kid you that this is anthropology in fictional guise however. Last Quarter is a real novel and the personalities of each of the herders, their sorrows and their joys, shine through. What I found very moving was their stoicism. And that’s not the same as fatalism. They suffer just like us. (full text)

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Favourite line: “They faced each other like weathered cliffs” (full text)  

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The account of the end of the traditional way of life is sentimental. Chi Zijian has not said anything which is likely to offend the Communist party or the Chinese state, but she has not told the truth for the Evenki. There is a story to be told about the genocide of the foraging people worldwide. The Last Quarter of the Moon isn’t that. (full text) 

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Categories
Last Quarter of the Moon (额尔古纳河右岸)

“Last Quarter of the Moon” among Time Out Beijing’s Top 20 Chinese Novels since 1900

It’s nice to find your work on the same list as Qian Zhongshu’s Fortress Besieged and Lu Xün’s Real Story of Ah Q. I happily report that Last Quarter of the Moon, my rendition of Chi Zijian’s tragic novel about the twilight of the reindeer-herding Evenki of northeast China, ranks a modest sixth on Time Out Beijing’s “Best Chinese Fiction Books of the Last Century.”

For background on Chi Zijian, the Evenki and the Spanish, Italian, French, Dutch and Japanese editions of Last Quarter of the Moon, see here. 

Also, see Transparent Translator for an interview with Cindy Carter, translator of Dream of Ding Village by Yan Lianke, which ranked ninth on Time Out’s list.

Categories
Interviews: Authors and Translators (作家与译者的采访) Shanghai Baby (上海宝贝)

Transparent Translator Series: Bruce Humes and his “Shanghai Baby” (上海宝贝)

Banned in China, Shanghai Baby (上海宝贝) captured the interest of publishers in the West, and I was commissioned by Simon & Schuster to translate the novel, which was published in 2001. Perhaps because my version became a best-seller in Hong Kong and Singapore, and the Chinese original was later translated into several languages including French, German, Italian and Japanese, over the years several people have interviewed me about the translation process. What follows below is my favorite among those interviews. This interview originally appeared at a web site run by Johnny Katchoolik, an indie musician whose works can be found here.

However, of late it seems no longer to be online. So I have copied it here (minus just the introduction and my picture, but without any other editing).

Questions by Fang Fang are in bolded italics, followed by my answers (Bruce Humes) in normal typeface.

How long have you been living in China?

I arrived via Taipei in 1978 and have worked in various parts of China since, save five years or so spent intermittently in the States. Have based myself in several cities during that time—Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Taipei—but travel very frequently, particularly in Shandong, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong.  

What brought you to China initially?

Intense interest in two rather different areas: A desire to master classical Chinese so that I could read Daoist writings in the original, and curiosity about socialism in action.