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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

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Professionals in literary and art circles on how to tell Chinese stories

A wave of efforts to carry forward traditional culture is sweeping China nationwide.

Starting from hit cultural TV programs such as Chinese Idioms Congress, Chinese Poetry Conference and the most recent success Readers, the richness and depth of Chinese culture has been knocking on the doors of people’s hearts, and viewers have shown they are very willing to open up.

The term “cultural confidence” has become the latest buzzword in the literary and art circles, as the world, as well as China itself, wants to hear stories from China.

How should we go about telling these stories, to show our confidence, our pride, and the essence of our culture? Read more

Source: China Daily

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Records of Genghis Khan’s empire translated into Mongolian

By Xinhua

Historical records compiled more than 600 years ago about Genghis Khan’s empire have been translated into the Mongolian language, experts said on Tuesday. The records consist of 15 books with 210 volumes and chronicle the rise and fall of the Mongol empire. They were compiled in 1370 as ordered by Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), which ended the Mongolian reign in China.

Over the past six centuries, historians have made several attempts to translate the books, written in classical Chinese, into Mongolian. But the efforts were interrupted due to difficulty and war.

In March 2014, 16 experts in Mongolian history teamed up to begin translation. They believe the historical records could help Mongolian people better understand their own history.

The books will be published in the next two years. Read more

Source: China Daily

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Book review: Is China an Empire? – Han Shih Toh’s take on China’s growing presence on the world stage

By Zhou Xin

Is China an Empire?

by Han Shih Toh

World Scientific

The rise of China as an economic powerhouse, and increasingly a political and military one, is one of the most important global developments in the past three decades. The way that China, a vast country ruled by a communist party, grows and deals with other countries is set to affect everyone on this planet.

Han Shi Toh’s Is China an Empire? tries to give answers, or at least clues leading to answers, to the big questions surrounding these issues. As a former business correspondent for the South China Morning Post, Toh spoke to many people who traded with China or were affected directly by China’s growing presence, and his work during this period provides a foundation for this book. Read more

Source: South China Morning Post

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He makes reading accessible

By Mei Jia

When writer Bi Feiyu landed in Beijing recently for four book events and to do a show on China Central Television’s hit program Readers, his presence created a stir among his fans, not unlike the one in London five years ago when he was there for an international book fair.

The winner of the 2010 Man Asian Literary Prize has a new book, Fiction Reading, a collection of magazine columns on his understanding of fiction classics, both Chinese and foreign.

The columns, which were first published in the Zhong Shan magazine, are based mainly on Bi’s literature lectures at Nanjing University since 2013, where he is a professor.

His reviews of world-class writers, using a colloquial and humorous touch, are wildly popular online.

“I love to chat about novels. And, I used to have a ‘bad’ reputation for that because I would keep my chat partners for too long,” says Bi. Read more

Source: China Daily



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Book Review: With The Explosion Chronicles, Yan Lianke shows us why fiction matters

By James Kidd

The Explosion Chronicles
by Yan Lianke

Chatto & Windus

Remind me again – why do we read fiction? Putting aside the probability that television is telling stories better than anyone else, that cinema at least provides an audience, that video games turn readers into players, books themselves can feel a little last millennium.

Moreover, as 2016 proved, life itself is giving litera­ture a run for its money when it comes to telling tales. If Donald Trump didn’t actually exist, then a Don DeLillo, a Martin Amis (or a Nigel Farage) would surely have to invent him.

Nowhere are the lines separating reality from fiction more blurred than in China, whose recent past, as Yan Lianke acknowledges in a pointed afterword to The Explosion Chronicles, very nearly beggars belief: “As the entire world stares incredulously at contemporary China’s miraculous transformation, the nation’s authors feel they have reached a point where literature can no longer directly reflect reality.” Nor, Yan continues, are these limitations confined to Chinese writers. “Even the ideologies and techniques associated with world literature would emit a collective sigh of despair if confronted with China’s extraordinary events.” Read more

Source: South China Morning Post


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2017 set to be landmark year for Chinese poetry

By Wen Zongduo/Li Wenfang

Many Chinese poets say that this year will be special for them, a view echoed by Wang Guoqin, a poet and critic who said “poetry is the light ahead in the dark tunnel of my life”, after receiving the Creation Award of the Year at the Third Spring Festival Poetry Gala for his book Talking About Poetry From Zhishi Studio.

The gala in Beijing organized over Jan 13-14 by the Qu Yuan Society of China brought together poetry enthusiasts from Beijing, Xi’an, Nanjing, Kaifeng and Shenyang.

Coincidentally, just over 100 years ago, Chinese poetry underwent a drastic change with poetry collections being published in new styles, free in rhythm and lines, com-pared with traditional verses often preset with tones, rhymes and the numbers of characters.

But questions still abound a century later.

At an event in Zhongshan, Guangdong province, on Jan 8 in the presence of guests from the province, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, Qiu Shuhong, whose latest honor is the World Chinese Poetry Award’s gold prize, proposed that 2017 be made the Year of Chinese Poetry to celebrate the birth of “new poems”. Read more

Source: China Daily

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Zhou Youguang, Who Made Writing Chinese as Simple as ABC, Dies at 111

By Margalit Fox

zhou-youguangZhou Youguang, known as the father of Pinyin for creating the system of Romanized Chinese writing that has become the international standard since its introduction some 60 years ago, died on Saturday in Beijing, Chinese state media reported. He was 111.

In recent decades, with the comparative invincibility that he felt great age bestowed on him, Mr. Zhou was also an outspoken critic of the Chinese government.

“What are they going to do,” he asked bluntly in an interview with the BBC in 2012. “Come and take me away?”

In fact, they had already done that once before, long ago. Read more

Source: The New York Times

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China: 2016 works worth reading

By Mei Jia

The Paper Republic website, which promotes contemporary Chinese writing to the English-language world, has just put out its latest list. Now in its fifth year, the list offers readers a wide range of choices. “This year’s list is longer than ever, and several books have won international prizes,” says Nicky Harman, a UK-based prize-winning literary translator, who prepared the list. At a glance, there are names of writers of fiction, sci-fi writers, online works, poetry and children’s literature, all translated and published in English in 2016. Read more

Source: China Daily

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Chinese novels make waves globally

By Xing Yi & Mei Jia

With many international awards, literary works from the mainland made a mark on the international stage last year. Xing Yi and Mei Jia report.

Chinese novels came of age in 2016 bagging many international awards, as in the case of children’s literature writer Cao Wenxuan winning the Hans Christian Andersen Award, Hao Jingfang taking the Hugo Award after Liu Cixin, the first Chinese winner of the award in 2015, and Wang Anyi grabbing the 2017 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature from The University of Oklahoma in September.

Veteran literary critic Meng Fanhua says 2016 was a big year for novels and he says that the power of Chinese stories come from the rural areas, “where we have the strongest literary traditions”.

Another veteran critic Bai Ye, who is with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, says that while traditional and established novel writers continue to produce works, younger writers who were born in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s are also gaining ground. Read more

Source: China Daily