China will be guest of honor at the International Istanbul Book Fair (Nov 2-10), with the theme being the Journey of Chinese literature from traditional to contemporary as illustrated by the “New Silk Road.”
Festivities are scheduled to include Xi Chuan 西川 and sixteen other Chinese authors, such as Ge Fei 葛菲, Jiang Nan 江南, Lao Ma 马俊杰, Li Jingze 李敬泽, Liu Zhenyun 刘震云, Su tong 苏童, Wang Gang 王刚, Yang Hongying 杨红樱, Yu Hua 余华, Zhang Wei 张炜, Zhang Yueran 张悦然, and China Writers Association president, Tie Ning 铁凝.
The Chicago Reader has a feature on Howard Goldblatt, with generous quotations from Dylan Suher ofAsymptote. The first paragraph is awful, so here’s the second & third:
readers who pick up an English translation of a book by Mo Yan, Wang Shuo, Su Tong, or any other contemporary Chinese novelist are, more likely than not, reading Goldblatt. “It’s all my words,” he says. “If they’re reading a translated novel, they’re reading the translation and hope that the translator got the story, style, and characters right.”
Because Chinese and English are completely distinct languages, with no history or linguistic roots in common, the work of any two translators of the same text will vary widely. Goldblatt is considered by authors, scholars, and colleagues to be the most trustworthy interpreter of Chinese, as well as the most prolific; to date, he’s translated more than 50 books.
Over at the NYTimes blog Eric Abrahamsen of Paper Republic has, with characteristic sarcasm, written about the recent edition of One Hundred Writers’ and Artists’ Hand-Copied Commemorative Edition of the “Yan’an Talks.” So what were the “Yan’an Talks” 在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话? Eric describes:
The Yan’an Talks on Literature and Art, delivered in 1942 by Mao Zedong, laid out his plan for the role of art in Chinese society. Seven years before the establishment of the People’s Republic, Mao was essentially telling artists that in a future Communist paradise they could expect to work solely in the service of the political aims of the party.
This year is the 70th anniversary of the talks, and there’s nothing unusual about state-owned publishers bringing out commemorative editions of political texts. This one would include facsimiles of several historical publications of the talks, as well as a new version pieced together from hand-copied passages by one hundred contemporary Chinese writers. And it was likely to go nowhere but warehouse shelves, next to thousands of commemorative books like it.
But the hand-copied feature caught the notice of online commentators. Among the hundred calligraphers were most of China’s best-known and respected authors, including Mo Yan, Su Tong, Jia Pingwa and Han Shaogong.
Interestingly, some of the writers who wanted to have nothing to do with this project–I’m thinking of Yan Lianke 阎连科–are the writers I consider most interested in “serving the people” 为人民服务, though perhaps not in the way everyone wants the people to be served. No word on whether Xi Chuan took part in this commemoration.