October 25, 2021

KITAAB

Connecting Asian writers with global readers

How a Man International Booker longlisted writer was found in translation

1 min read

While people create trends in literature, like Harvey Thomlinson, the British author, publisher and translator, who favours Derrida and experiments with languages, translators often get to choose what they translate. He chose to bring Chinese writers to limelight — among them Man International Booker long-listed author Murong Xuecun. And it was his translation that was longlisted.

51Gr24HETuL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_In Thomlinson’s own words: “ In those days, the web gave them space to widen the domain of the novel stylisti­cally and thematically by covering subjects such as drugs, sex and violence. There were so many of these rough diamonds in the online riverbed, I even started to translate a few chapters myself, beginning with Murong’s first novel, Leave Me Alone: A Novel of Chengdu (2006).

“It was dis­cover­­ed on the website by literary agent Benython Oldfield and sold to Allen & Unwin. I took time off from work and for two weeks locked myself in a hotel in Bangkok, where the atmospherics resonated with the grit of Murong’s Chengdu. There’s tremendous pressure to do justice to such a great book. By the end of that time I had a first draft, the publisher entered it for the Man International (literary prize) without a lick of editing and it was longlisted.”

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