Viewpoint

12.01.16

Why I’m Giving Away My Book in China

Mei Fong
After a decade covering Asia for The Wall Street Journal, I devoted three years of my life to researching and writing a book about China’s one-child policy, One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment. This month, I’m giving away the...

A Magician of Chinese Poetry

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
Some people, and I am one, feel that Tang (618–907 CE) poetry is the finest literary art they have ever read. But does one need to learn Chinese in order to have such a view, or can classical Chinese poetry be adequately translated?In 1987 Eliot...

Culture

09.27.16

The Perils of Translating a Classic Novel from the Chinese Page to the American Stage

Nick Frisch
Welcome to my dream,” says a Chinese monk pacing along the stage of the San Francisco Opera. So begins Dream of the Red Chamber, a new opera based on the classic Chinese novel of the same name. Its central story is a love triangle framed as Buddhist...

If Mao Had Been a Hermit

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
At the annual meeting of BookExpo America that was held in New York last May, to which most leading U.S. publishers sent representatives, state-sponsored Chinese publishers were named “guests of honor.” Commercially speaking, this made sense. China’...

What Is the I Ching?

Eliot Weinberger from New York Review of Books
The I Ching has served for thousands of years as a philosophical taxonomy of the universe, a guide to an ethical life, a manual for rulers, and an oracle of one’s personal future and the future of the state. It was an organizing principle or...

Viewpoint

06.11.15

Why I Publish in China

Peter Hessler
A couple of weeks ago, I received a request from a New York Times reporter to talk about publishing in China. The topic has been in the news lately, with the BookExpo in New York, where Chinese publishers were the guests of honor. In May, the PEN...

Media

06.09.15

Chinese Censorship of Western Books Is Now Normal. Where’s the Outrage?

Alexa Olesen
In September 2014, I was commissioned by the New York-based free speech advocacy group PEN American Center to investigate how Western authors were navigating the multibillion-dollar Chinese publishing world and its massive, but opaque, censorship...

Sinica Podcast

06.08.15

Writers: Heroes in China?

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
If you happen to live in the anglophone world and aren’t closely tied to China by blood or professional ties, chances are that what you believe to be true about this country is heavily influenced by the opinions of perhaps one hundred other people,...

Conversation

05.21.15

Censorship and Publishing in China

Andrew J. Nathan, Zha Jianying & more
This week, a new PEN American Center report “Censorship and Conscience: Foreign Authors and the Challenge of Chinese Censorship,” by Alexa Olesen, draws fresh attention to a perennial problem for researchers, scholars, and creative writers trying to...

An American Hero in China

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
One night in September, three hundred people crowded into the basement auditorium of an office tower in Beijing to hear a discussion between two of China’s most popular writers. One was Liu Yu, a thirty-eight-year-old political scientist and blogger...

The Wonderfully Elusive Chinese Novel

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
In teaching Chinese-language courses to American students, which I have done about thirty times, perhaps the most anguishing question I get is “Professor Link, what is the Chinese word for ______?”

Sinica Podcast

01.12.15

From the Interpreter’s Booth

Kaiser Kuo & Jeremy Goldkorn from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy are joined by Lynette Shi and William White, two globe-trotting adventurers who've found unconventional careers navigating the shoals of the professional interpretation circuit in China. So whether you’re...

Viewpoint

10.14.14

On Dealing with Chinese Censors

Joseph W. Esherick
It was a hot afternoon in June in the East China city of Jinan. I was returning to my hotel after an afternoon coffee, thinking of the conference I had come to attend and trying to escape the heat on the shady side of the street. My cell phone rang...

Caixin Media

10.06.14

Lost in Translation

Is selective translation of news articles from the foreign media more insidious than no translation at all? The debate was sparked by a garbled translation of the cover story of the Economist headlined "What Does China Want?"In a...

Culture

08.11.14

The Bard in Beijing

Sheila Melvin
At the end of a rollicking production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream—directed by Tim Robbins and staged in China in June by the Los Angeles-based Actors’ Gang—the director and actors returned to the stage for a dialogue with the...

Sinica Podcast

10.29.13

Chinese Literature in Translation

Jeremy Goldkorn, Linda Jaivin & more from Sinica Podcast
This week, Sinica is delighted to be joined by Linda Jaivin and Alice Liu for a discussion on Chinese literature in translation. As many listeners will know, Linda is a long-standing force in the Chinese literary community and the author of many...

Books

04.12.13

Lin Shu, Inc.

Michael Gibbs Hill
How could a writer who knew no foreign languages call himself a translator? How, too, did he become a major commercial success, churning out nearly 200 translations over twenty years? Lin Shu, Inc. crosses the fields of literary studies, intellectual history, and print culture, offering new ways to understand the stakes of translation in China and beyond. With rich detail and lively prose, Michael Gibbs Hill shows how Lin Shu (1852-1924) rose from obscurity to become China’s leading translator of Western fiction at the beginning of the twentieth century. Well before Ezra Pound’s and Bertolt Brecht’s “inventions” of China revolutionized poetry and theater, Lin Shu and his assistants—who did, in fact, know languages like English and French—had already given many Chinese readers their first taste of fiction from the United States, France, and England. After passing through Lin Shu’s “factory of writing,” classic novels like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Oliver Twist spoke with new meaning for audiences concerned with the tumultuous social and political change facing China. Leveraging his success as a translator of foreign books, Lin Shu quickly became an authority on traditional Chinese culture who upheld the classical language as a cornerstone of Chinese national identity. Eventually, younger intellectuals—who had grown up reading his translations—turned on Lin Shu and tarred him as a symbol of backward conservatism. Ultimately, Lin’s defeat and downfall became just as significant as his rise to fame in defining the work of the intellectual in modern China. —Oxford University Press

Translation of “Finnegan’s Wake” Sells in China

Didi Tang
Associated Press
The Chinese version is no easier to read than the original, the loyal-minded translator assures, but James Joyce‘s “Finnegans Wake” has still sold out its initial run in China — with the help of some big urban billboards.

Sinica Podcast

12.09.11

Chinese Literature

Jeremy Goldkorn & Alice Xin Liu from Sinica Podcast
Our podcast this week is all about books and money in modern China. If you, like us, are tired of Lu Xun and Lao She, listen to Sinica this week as we look into the state of contemporary Chinese literature, asking what writers are hot, what writers...

My First Trip

09.30.11

With Nixon in China

Chas W. Freeman
On a chill, gray Monday morning, on February 21, 1972, I stood on the steps of the old Hongqiao Airport terminal. I had arrived in Shanghai twenty minutes in advance of President Nixon. I was on the backup plane, which arrived first, so I actually...

What Confucius Said

Jonathan D. Spence from New York Review of Books
1.The first Western-language version of Confucius’ sayings—later known as the Analects—was published in Paris in 1687, in Latin, under the title Confucius Sinarum Philosophus, with a brief dedication to King Louis XIV, thanking him for supporting...

Remembrance of Ming’s Past

Jonathan D. Spence from New York Review of Books
To many readers in the past, The Plum in the Golden Vase has seemed an inchoate mass of a story. Even if it was clearly “about” a wealthy urban merchant Hsi-men Ch’ing, his six consorts, and numerous other sexual companions, it was also full of...