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Articles tagged "Chinese Literature"

Black Panther

Wong Koi Tet’s childless man, desperate for an heir, resorts to superstition to jack up his potency. Ong Par had been waiting for over three hours, frozen in a squat among the chaotic shadows cast by the crisscrossing branches of the trees towering over him. One thought occupied his mind all this time: that he might not have a son to perform his last rites. He was light-headed from the smell of his own sweat mingled with the hum of the swamp insects and the humid tropical heat...

“The Invisibility Cloak” by Ge Fei

The Invisibility Cloak by Ge Fei—translated beautifully from the Chinese, albeit with a certain appealing clunkiness, by Canaan Morse—is the first of his novels to be translated into English. It tells the story of two Beijings: The grimy, hardscrabble Beijing, inhabited by gangsters and hustlers; and the shiny, modern Beijing, home to professors and international businessmen. These twin cities, both equally real and equally fantastic, exist side by side, and...

WWB Weekend: Olympian Feats

We’re getting a leg up on the Olympics with a story of a different sort of national athlete. In Zhao Ying’s “Red Bean Sticky Cakes and Running,” a star Chinese runner tracks the source of her success. At seven, Wumi literally goes on the run with her illegally pregnant mother. This inadvertent training, and the resulting mental and physical stamina, jumpstarts Wumi on the road to athletic dominance.  Eluding the authorities, the fleet pair...

New in Chinese: \“The Chilli Bean Paste Clan\” by YAN Ge

You might imagine that I thought long and hard in choosing my best untranslated book, because China has so many writers and so little of their work reaches the West, at least in English. But I plumped without any hesitation for Yan Ge’s The Chilli Bean Paste Clan. (The title in Chinese is 《我们家》Our Family.) This is a family drama that manages to be both warm and funny, and barbed and irreverent. The novel is set in a (fictional) small Sichuan town in...

Fellowships for Chinese Poetry & Translation at The Vermont Studio Center

what: 2014 VSC/Luce Foundation Chinese Poetry & Translation Fellowships Six awards for outstanding poets living anywhere in the world whose primary language is Chinese. These awards include roundtrip travel and a discretionary stipend. Six awards for talented English-language translators working with Chinese poetry. These awards include a discretionary stipend.  where: The Vermont Studio Center submission deadline: April 1, 2014 more info: http://ow.ly/tD2hb

Free!

“I’m free!” Scarlet shouted, waving a letter at me. She was down in the street, holding onto her rolled-up pant legs, knee-deep in floodwater. From where I stood on the balcony, I could see her craning her slender neck upward, looking rather like a small flamingo about to take flight. “My mom’s dead! I don’t have to do it anymore! I’m free!” It was early summer, 1989. It had been raining for seven days straight and builders’ rubble had...

The Translator Relay: John Balcom

Our "Translator Relay" series features a new interview each month. This month's translator will choose the next interviewee, adding a different, sixth question. Shelley Frisch passed the baton to John Balcom, an award-winning translator of Chinese literature, philosophy, and children’s books who teaches in the Graduate School of Translation, Interpretation and Language Education at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, a graduate school of Middlebury College....

On \“The Man with the Knife\”

When I met Susan Harris at the London Book Fair this year, she told me WWB was planning a non-Scandi crime issue. Would I like to look for a Chinese crime short story? she asked. I hesitated… contemporary Chinese writers hardly ever do crime. It just isn’t a popular genre. But changes happen fast in China. Back home, I looked through my collection of literary mags and realized that the latest edition of Ou Ning’s Chutzpah Magazine was actually on crime. And there...

From the Archives: Chinese Writing, Banned and Otherwise

Mo Yan's Nobel turned a spotlight on Chinese writers and literature, and the continuing controversy over his selection has prolonged, and intensified, that focus. Our timely current issue of banned writing represents only a fraction of the Chinese work on the site; so if you’ve worked your way through this month’s offerings and find yourself hungry for more, do check out our rich archive, where close to a hundred pieces across all genres provide a wide-ranging survey of...

Awakening the Individual Consciousness

This essay is part of “What Kind of China do We Want?,” a project of the Foreign Policy Initiative to inform the American public about the ideas and goals of China’s intellectuals, activists and dissidents.  It was noon on a summer’s day in 1966.  The weather was hot, so my grandmother took us to have lunch under the shade of a tree.  Just as the food was being put on the table, a foul burning smell came from over the horizon, making it difficult to...

An Interview with Yan Lianke

At Thinkers Café, a dimly lit café near Peking University, Yan Lianke chooses a side table with a desk lamp that flickers on and off as we speak. The outspoken author and ex-military man is strikingly mild-mannered. Yan enlisted in the army when he was a teenager. He spent the next two decades as a military propaganda writer, while testing the state censors’ limits and his army superiors’ patience with an increasingly ambitious and politically pointed series...

The Man with the Knife

He lay back on the sofa, tipsy. She had invited him out for a meal and now they were back at her flat. He was a renowned poetry critic with a successful career. She was just an aspiring poet. He had agreed to help her be “successful”—that was the word they used in China nowadays. It was not easy to be a successful poet. She would have to work hard. She offered him tea to sober him up. Then they could go on talking about poetry—Rilke and Yeats, even Foucault and...

from “Memories of the Cowshed”

Memories of the Cowshed is one of China’s top bestsellers on the Cultural Revolution. Ji Xianlin’s 1998 memoir recounts the painful and deeply disenchanting period he spent in the “cowshed,” an improvised prison on the Peking University campus for intellectuals labeled as “class enemies.” After the Cultural Revolution (1966–76), the cowsheds became a taboo subject on campuses across China, where persecutors and victims often continued to work...

Death Fugue

Sheng Keyi’s Death Fugue, which takes its title from the famous poem by Paul Celan, is an absurdist allegorical tale about freedom and shackles, rebellion and dictatorship. The protagonist, Yuan Mengliu, is a poet who gives up poetry to become a doctor and moves to a city he thinks is Utopia, only to realize that it is controlled by a dictatorship. In this scene, Yuan Mengliu goes on a walk with a woman from the city. Yuan Mengliu did not worry about the precise location of the...

An Interview with Chan Koon-chung

Chan Koon-chung’s gray, shoulder-length hair is a throwback to the seventies, when Chan founded an influential cultural and alternative lifestyle magazine, City Magazine. Chan has since made a point of being where the action is: City Magazine saw Hong Kong navigate the anxiety-filled return to Chinese sovereignty, and in the early nineties, Chan moved to Taiwan, where he worked in television during the transition to full democracy that had the country choose its first popularly...

Day Three at the London Book Fair

The highlight of the third and final day at the Literary Translation Center was a conversation among poets, editors, and translators about an exciting new book of contemporary Chinese poetry.  The book is called Jade Ladder—and the panelists discussing it, and related subjects, sounded like just the playful, dissenting and sensitive voices you’d hope to find in such company.  At the center was poet Yang Lian, who described one poem in the collection as a...

Day Two at the London Book Fair

The London Book Fair runs from April 16-April 18, and WWB brings it to you from the Literary Translation Centre, a seminar dedicated to all aspects of literary translation.  Follow us each day on [email protected] on our Dispatches blog, where we'll be posting daily round-ups with news on the ground.   Day Two at the Literary Translation Centre gives us pause. On everyone’s lips is a quirky idea, especially for a group of translators and translation...

MuXin, 1927–2011

Chinese writer and painter MuXin died December 21. MuXin was born in 1927 in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province, to an wealthy, aristocratic family. Like most intellectuals in the late 1940s, he rallied around Mao Zedong’s vision for a new China, but he quickly became disillusioned. Between the Communist victory in 1949 and the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, his family was dispersed, imprisoned, or killed and their estate destroyed. MuXin was imprisoned for eighteen months between...

About the Young Writer Zheng Xialou

Zheng Xiaolu, editor of a literary magazine, is only twenty-five years old. He was probably twenty-two when he wrote this story. Last year, he and another editor visited me to discuss how I arrange for publication of my works.  Later on, he sent his stories to me.  After reading his short stories, I was astonished, because he is still so young and yet he writes like an old hand.  Moreover, gloomy and forceful power shows through between the lines. He has a sober and...

A Beethoven Chronology

On a certain day in a certain month of the Enlightenment clear skies      light winds out of the southwest high in the low 70s Beethoven is born in a bed on a certain day in a certain month of the Enlightenment a soap dish tumbles to the floor the other foot steps into a slipper Mozart says keep your eye on this Beethoven he’s going to rock the world on a certain day in a certain month of the Enlightenment “Hello! Good evening!”...

Your Dog

a dog lives it’s your shadow it learns about life learns to go to toilets learns to run forward with a lighter in its mouth once you take out a cigarette not only does it run forward with a lighter in its mouth it tugs your sock too and runs about like you’ve been everywhere it barks at the mirror full of fear when you fart it straightens its ears you go to the washroom, it rummages behind the toilet bowl you write, it’ll knock out some nonsense on the...

Soul

We had a visitation from a woman who’d been dead for many years we felt her presence but see her we could not heard her voice instructing us to turn the hand-crank of the projector in the room (there’s always a room with one) and as the sprockets clicked the flywheels spun a cone of light (it’s always a cone of light) illumined a corner of the room where she appeared   like every spirit ought to we were so bewitched we quite forgot to ask her what the afterlife was...

On Tao Qian

Tao Qian on Tao Qian: He likes to read and is satisfied with the most simple of explanations. When he understands what something means, he is so happy he forgets to eat. Su Dongpo on Tao Qian: He writes the way someone who is no longer impatient speaks. Huang Tingjian on Tao Qian: The poems are of no use to someone just out of childhood, but if he rereads them when he is old it is as if he has made his decisions without knowing enough. Huang Tingjian says that Su Dongpo is...

Du Fu

Du Fu says of himself that he was a child prodigy, that he was writing poetry when he was seven or eight years old. When he’s over forty, he will be a great poet. What he can think about, he can write about. A child asks if something is important enough to think about. Is this an excuse to get out of doing something else? The other children are already at work. Reading takes time, just like looking around. Every word Du Fu uses, he read somewhere. He remembers the meaning of...

Su Dongpo and the Trick he says he Learned from Tao Qian

The simplest way to find tranquility: keep starting over in a different way. He knows nothing about those who find tranquility, free from what surrounds them; he’s never met anyone like that. Let’s send him somewhere else, see if he changes his tune then. His trick is to be more than happy when things are going well. It’s a warm evening and it will rain later. More to see left and right than he can list. Quiet, except for old man Du Fu reproaching old man...

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