The Hong Kong Advanced Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Studies has just posted Cris Mattison’s interview with Hong Kong writer Dung Kai-cheung 董啟章, one of the SAR’s most inventive authors. His novel Atlas: The Archaeology of an Imaginary City 地圖集, which mixes fiction with documentary history to chronicle the city of Hong Kong, will be out this summer in English translation by Bonnie McDougall and Anders Hansson. Here’s an excerpt from the interview where he discusses his work as related to translation and world literature in the broad sense, responding to a critique people have leveled against certain writers of modern Chinese literature for nearly a century (I expect Xi Chuan would give a similar response):
DKC: I said my language is influenced by English because since I studied Comparative Literature at the University of Hong Kong much of my reading has been done in English. The influence is not just in terms of subject matter and literary forms but also of sentence structure and diction. My Chinese has been regarded by some language purists as “Europeanized,” which is meant to be a criticism for not writing in a proper Chinese. It is in this sense that I said the language of Atlas “lends itself to translation.” By this I mean not that it is simple to translate, nor do I mean that it is written with the intention of being translated, and thus gaining international attention.