Wednesday, 17 October 2018

On translation, by Nicky Harman

Nicky Harman, Yan Ge, Natascha Bruce

Let’s talk literary translation, or how to keep audiences riveted by swearing at them

Last week, I was at Cheltenham Literary Festival, appearing on a panel with Yan Ge and Natascha Bruce. We had carte blanche to talk about Translating China, but decided to focus on Yan Ge’s new novel, The Chilli BeanPaste Clan (Chinese: 我们家) because (let’s be honest) it helps sales, and because the three of us all had plenty to say about the book.

The Chilli Bean Paste Clan is set in a fictional town in West China and is the story of the Duan-Xue family, owners of the town’s lucrative chilli bean paste factory, their formidable matriarch, and her badly-behaved, middle-aged son. As the old lady’s eightieth birthday approaches, her children get together to make preparations. Tensions that have simmered for many years come to the surface, family secrets are revealed and long-time sibling rivalries flare up with renewed vigour. 

Friday, 12 October 2018

The Deer and the Cauldron, guest post by John Minford

Between 1997 and 2002, John Minford, now Emeritus Professor of Chinese at the Australian National University, brought out a three-volume translation of the rollicking Chinese martial arts novel, called, in English, The Deer and the Cauldron, with Oxford University Press Hong Kong (OUP HK). Now OUP UK has published it in the UK.  As John explains: "I worked on the translation with David Hawkes, my father-in-law, and, on the last volume, with my late wife Rachel May, for about 10 years from the mid 1990s."

John here writes about the sprawling and beguiling example of Chinese popular culture he and his collaborators worked on for so long.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Oxford University Press Pakistan book fair

The annual month-long Oxford Book Fair, organized by Oxford University Press (OUP), is running until 7 November at Oxford bookshops in cities throughout Pakistan. The much-awaited yearly event always draws a large number of visitors.  The selection of books featured includes both locally published and imported children's books, English Language Teaching material, reference books, and school and higher education textbooks.

For the general reader, there are non-fiction titles on international affairs, politics, history, anthropology, women’s studies, art, and literature.

Biographies and memoirs of prominent Pakistani personalities are being showcased.

Oxford’s hallmark English and bi-lingual dictionaries and thesauruses are available at special, reduced prices.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

A Yellow House: Elaine Chiew Talks to Karien van Ditzhuijzen

Credit: Lina Meissen Photography
After a childhood of moving around Asia, the Middle East and Europe, Karien van Ditzhuijzen moved to Singapore in 2012. Karien has a degree in chemical engineering, but gave up her career developing ice cream recipes to become a writer. She now dedicates her life (in no particular order) to advocating migrant workers’ rights, her family, her pet chicken and being entertained by monkeys while writing at the patio of her jungle house.

As a freelance writer and blogger Karien contributes to several publications in Singapore and the Netherlands. In 2012 she published a children’s book in Dutch recounting her childhood in Borneo. Karien van Ditzhuijzen’s debut novel A Yellow House was published by Monsoon Books in 2018. This poignant coming-of-age story, told in the voice of inquisitive ten-year-old Maya, explores the plight of migrant domestic workers in Singapore and the relationships they form with the families they work for.

Karien has been working with migrant domestic workers since 2012, when she joined HOME, a charity that supports migrant workers in Singapore. In the following years Karien worked closely with domestic worker writers, documenting their stories and sharing them on the blog www.myvoiceathome.org and as editor of the anthology 'Our Homes, Our Stories'.


The strong women Karien met through her charity work were the inspiration for A Yellow House.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

500 words from Robert F. Delaney

500 words from is an occasional series in which novelists talk about their new novels. Robert F. Delaney has just brought out The Wounded Muse.

Robert has been covering China as a journalist for media outlets including Dow Jones Newswires and Bloomberg News since 1995, and was recently appointed U.S. Bureau Chief for the South China Morning Post. In his spare time, he turned to writing about the personal struggles of those caught in the middle of China’s ongoing transformation into an economic powerhouse. Many of the themes for The Wounded Muse were first developed in his earlier collection, Route 1 to China. Robert now splits his time between New York City and Toronto.

The Wounded Muse, a novel based on actual events, follows Qiang as he returns to his homeland, China, from Silicon Valley, during the lead up to the 2008 Olympic Games. In Beijing, he finds wrecking balls are knocking down entire neighborhoods to make way for fancy modern structures. Qiang begins shooting footage of the tumult for a documentary. When he’s arrested, it falls on his sister, Diane, and an American journalist, Jake, to figure out how to end his detention. With different ideas about how to approach a vast Chinese security apparatus, Diane and Jake don’t know how to trust each other. Meanwhile, Dawei, an itinerant Jake befriended years earlier, returns to Beijing to retrieve a memento that has suddenly become valuable. Dawei finds himself ensnared in a plan to force the authorities to release Qiang.

So, over to Robert…