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Science fiction’s new golden age in China, what it says about social evolution and the future, and the stories writers want world to see

By Rachel Cheung

The science-fiction genre in China was little known before Liu Cixin was honoured with the Hugo Award for best novel in 2015 for The Three-Body Problem. The first book in Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy, it tells of an alien invasion during the Cultural Revolution and has sold more than a million copies in China alone. The English translation was recommended by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to members of his book club, and praised by former US president Barack Obama as “wildly imaginative, really interesting”.

Last year, Liu’s compatriot Hao Jingfang earned a Hugo Award for Folding Beijing, in which the city is divided into zones, each with a different number of hours in the day.

Liu has been nominated for another Hugo Award this year, for the final episode in his trilogy, Death’s End.

The two winning books are now being adapted for the big screen in China, marking a turning point for Chinese sci-fi and potentially expanding the genre’s exposure globally. Read more

Source: South China Morning Post


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Science fiction translator Ken Liu on Invisible Planets compilation

By Jarrod Watt

Hao Jinfang and Xia Jia both appear in the first English-language compilation of Chinese science, Invisible Planets. Ken Liu’s short story The Paper Menagerie was the first work of fiction to win the Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy Worlds in one year.

Invisible Planets could well be the Chinese science fiction equivalent of Dangerous Visions, an anthology of science fiction released in 1967 which changed the way many readers thought about the genre.

“For readers, my fellow anglophonic readers, I hope they like the book. I don’t think the book is terribly important to the Chinese community, because Chinese writers have been writing Chinese science fiction for decades, and there’s a very vibrant science fiction scene in China, consisting of younger authors like Chen Quifan, Hao Jinfang, Xia Jia and so on…

“For English readers I think it is kind of interesting, because up until this moment Chinese science fiction has played a very low role for the average English reader, you know, most of us read authors from the UK, the US, Australia, from Canada, we might read some translations, but mostly they will be from Europe or Japan. There has not been a large presence in translation from Chinese quarters. Read more

Source: South China Morning Post


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China to guide the development of online literature

By Xinhua

The General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee has asked the China Writers Association (CWA) to guide online literature and carry out other reforms.

According to a plan to deepen reform of the CWA issued by the office on Thursday, CWA should establish evaluation and incentive systems that will benefit the development of online literature.

The Party’s role in literature work should also be strengthened. For instance, the Party should guide and support works focusing on juveniles and patriotism, as well as realistic and historical topics.

In the meantime, the CWA should organize literature exchange programs among Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and provide more communication opportunities between Chinese and foreign writers. Read more

Source: China Daily


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Burton Watson, 91, Influential Translator of Classical Asian Literature, Dies

By William Grimes

Burton Watson, whose spare, limpid translations, with erudite introductions, opened up the world of classical Japanese and Chinese literature to generations of English-speaking readers, died on April 1 in Kamagaya, Japan. He was 91.

His death was confirmed by his nephew William Dundon.

For nearly six decades, Mr. Watson was a one-man translation factory, producing indispensable English versions of Chinese and Japanese literary, historical and philosophical texts, dozens of them still in print. Generations of students and teachers relied on collections like “Early Chinese Literature” (1962), “Chinese Lyricism: Shih Poetry From the Second to the Twelfth Century” (1971), “From the Country of Eight Islands: An Anthology of Japanese Poetry” (1981) and “The Columbia Book of Chinese Poetry: From Early Times to the 13th Century” (1984). Read more

Source: The New York Times


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Publisher collects Wang’s works in new volume

By Xing Yi

Chinese author Wang Xiaobo died 20 years ago, but his works are still popular among Chinese readers.

Beijing October Culture and Arts Publishing House released a collection of Wang’s works on April 11, his death anniversary.

About 100 people crowded a Pageone bookstore in Beijing for the book launch, including Li Yinhe, who’s Wang’s wife and a professor of gender studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

“I went to his tomb this morning, and I saw flower bundles, cigarettes and liquor laid in front of the gravestone,” says Li.

“I also found a piece of paper with his words-someone wrote it down and left it there. A butterfly lingered on the paper.”

Yang Xiaoyan, the editor of the collection, says all of Wang’s works are included in the seven-installment collection, including some previously unpublished manuscripts. Read more

Source: China Daily


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Sharing great writing of China

By Yang Yang

“We know Canadian contemporary literature much better than they know ours,” says Bai Ye, director of the China Contemporary Literature Study Association, at a recent forum in Beijing on cultural translation and studies.

Bai relates a story from about 10 years ago, when Liu Zhenyun, writer of I Didn’t Kill My Husband and The Cook, the Crook, and the Real Estate Tycoon, and Bai went to a literary event at a Confucius Institute in Canada.

Bai had a dialogue with a famous Canadian critic at the event. As they discussed Canadian literature, Bai gave examples of several authors that he liked. The Canadian critic, on the other hand, could not think of any Chinese writer that she read.

“She told me to wait and she would think of one that she really loved. She didn’t think of the name until we dined together later. It was Li Bai,” he says. Read more

Source: China Daily


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Readers on rise, mostly in digital

By Mei Jia

Chinese adults read an average of just under eight books in 2016 – a tiny increase of 0.02 percent over 2015 – while a rapid increase of 6.1 percent was seen in the number of people reading digital content.

“We’ve seen fast growth in digital reading for eight consecutive years,” said Wei Yushan, head of the Chinese Academy of Press and Publication, who announced the academy’s major findings from the 14th survey of Chinese reading habits on Tuesday, ahead of World Book Day, which falls on Sunday.

Of the nearly eight books read by an average adult in 2016, about five were in print form and three were digital. Wei said similar surveys of readers from European countries and the United States show that they read 10 titles a year, while Japanese read 12. Read more

Source: The China Daily


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U Htin Kyaw unveils father’s book in China

By Xing Yi

Min Thu Wun’s Affinity with China – a book in Chinese and Burmese – was unveiled by the President of Myanmar U Htin Kyaw in Beijing on Sunday (9th April).

The late Min Thu Wun, the president’s father, was a famous poet who is regarded as one of the three luminaries in Myanmar’s literary movement called Khitsan (new writing) of the 1930s.

The president attended the book launch at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing during his first visit to China since becoming Myanmar’s leader in 2016.

Published by China’s Foreign Language Press in April, the book is a collection of Min Thu Wun’s essays on China and Chinese literature, reflecting the cultural links between China and Myanmar. Read more

Source: China Daily


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Chinese writer Xue Yiwei awarded a literary prize in Canada

With Shenzheners, his first book in English (translated from the Chinese by Darryl Sterk), Xue Yiwei has been awarded the Diversity Prize of the 19th Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival.

The news was announced on March 20, at the festival’s opening press conference. This is the first time the high-profile festival has awarded a prize to a Chinese writer, for a work moreover in translation.

Since its publication last September, Xue Yiwei’s collection of stories, originally well-received in China, has drawn a great deal of attention from Canadian readers. Read more

Source: China Daily


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Belt and Road opens new chapter for authors

By Mei Jia

China’s contemporary wordsmiths are gaining a wider audience through the development of the ‘modern Silk Road’. Mei Jia reports.

Prior to 2011, kung fu, Jackie Chan and pandas were the images readers in the Arab world associated most with China, according to Ahmed Elsaid, an Egyptian publisher who operates from a base in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region.

Six years later, the list has grown and writers such as Liu Zhenyun, Xu Zechen and economist Justin Yifu Lin have seen their popularity grow with readers in the region.

“Before 2011, even Chinese language majors at universities in the Arabic-speaking world didn’t understand Chinese society, the people or history very well. At the time, there were very few books about China in English, let alone Arabic,” said the publisher and translator, who majored in Chinese at the Al-Azhar University in Cairo and now operates from Yinchuan in Northwest China. Read more

Source: China Daily