Julia Lovell on Chinese Fiction Translations

Translator and scholar Julia Lovell has a long review in the UK-based Prospect magazine on the new crop of Chinese fiction translations on offer from Path Light and Chutzpah 天南, English-language journals published in China. She discusses only fiction and doesn’t mention poetry, but here’s a taste of her worthy piece:

Pathlight and Chutzpah try to favour younger authors, who have so far been relatively neglected both in China and in translation. For the past decade, the dominant form in literary Chinese fiction has been the realist historical novel set mainly in Maoist China, as penned by male authors born in the late 1950s or early 1960s (Life and Death are Wearing Me Out by Mo Yan, Su Tong’s The Boat to Redemption and others). These grand narratives have been preoccupied with the traumatic landmarks of Maoism: land reform, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and so on. Both Chutzpah and Pathlight, by contrast, draw attention to novelists born between the late 1960s and 1980s. These generations of writers are broadly unified by a couple of shared literary characteristics: by a strongly individualistic, personal voice and by a determination to illuminate (often with wry humour or playful surrealism) the intense strangeness of the capitalist society that the Chinese Communist party is now building.