Plume February 2012

In yesterday’s mention of Chinoiserie by Karen Rigby I neglected to point out that the book was selected for the 2011 Sawtooth Poetry Prize by Paul Hoover. Coincidentally or not, Hoover–whose co-translations from Vietnamese and German I published in CipherJournal–is one of the featured writers in this month’s Plume.

Click here for my translation of Xi Chuan’s “The Ant’s Plunder” 蚂蚁劫, published in Plume last November.

Cécile Lagesse’s review of Once on a Moonless Night

200Modern Chinese Literature & Culture has just posted my friend Cécile Lagesse’s review of Dai Sijie’s 戴思杰 novel Once on a Moonless Night, as translated from the French by Adriana Hunter. The review presents a detailed look at Dai’s transnational story, in which “the Chinese language is associated with pain,” even as “one might feel that his novel’s historical references fit almost too well the pre-conceived expectations that his western-educated audience could have of China.” Nevertheless, between these poles, Cécile writes:

Aside from its use of historical reference, Once on a Moonless Night also pays tribute to the long tradition of translation that has played a crucial role in shaping Chinese culture. The novel is built around the search for a missing Buddhist sutra, but it is less the fact that the document is Buddhist that is essential to the understanding of the story and more that it represents a historical relic, the trace of an important moment in Chinese history when translation of Buddhist texts by missionaries was prevalent.

A well-written review, and I look forward to reading the novel in full.

Jacob Edmond’s Common Strangeness Blog

Poetry translator and scholar Jacob Edmond has a new blog to promote his forthcoming book, A Common Strangeness: Contemporary Poetry, Cross-Cultural Encounter, Comparative Literature (forthcoming from Fordham University Press). Using Walter Benjamin‘s take on Baudelaire and flânerie to take a new look at World Literature, Edmond reads Chinese poets Yang Lian 楊煉 and Bei Dao 北島, Russian poets Arkadii Dragomoshchenko and Dmitri Prigov, and Americans Charles Bernstein and Lyn Hejinian. The blog, and especially the book, both promise to be fascinating reads.

While Xi Chuan has less to do with exile, often central to critical discussions of Bei Dao and Yang Lian, I’m sure that Common Strangeness, and common strangenesses, will also be helpful in providing tools to understand both the Chinese and international aspects of the writing of Xi Chuan.

Tumblr Reblogs of Xi Chuan’s Window

A couple days ago I posted a link to the view from Xi Chuan’s studio window as drawn by Matteo Pericoli posted on the Paris Review Daily. Here’s a list from the Paris Review‘s tumblr feed of all the people who’ve reblogged the image so far. Follow the links to an amazing collection of internationalism, art, and political engagement that represents, I think, the internet at its best.

A Look Out Xi Chuan’s Window

As part of its series on “what writers from around the world see from their windows,” the Paris Review Daily recently featured Matteo Pericoli’s drawing of the view from Xi Chuan’s studio window. The feature also includes a passage from Xi Chuan, which he wrote in English, about his view. It ends:

But the whole city of Beijing was a giant construction site in the 1990s and 2000s, and the view couldn’t last. Once I got used to the buildings in the window, I seldom looked out of it. No trees can reach the fifteenth floor, so no birds perch at my window. When I look out, I see cars running on the bridge. Nothing else.