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Bit of Love for Paper Republic

I’ve written about Paper Republic in the past, praising all the resources they’ve collected to promote Chinese literature. It really is a great site, as I was reminded recently when Nicky Harman drew my attention to their 2015 round up of Chinese literature and the Read Paper Republic feature.

The first page is pretty straight forward, but it’s great to see so many works translated from the Chinese—including fiction, poetry, YA, nonfiction—in one place, along with all the awards Chinese literature in translation won this year. (Such as Can Xue winning the BTBA for The Last Lover.)

Read Paper Republic has been going for a while, but this is the first time we’re writing it up, so I’ll let them explain what it is:

We at Paper Republic are a collective of literary translators, promoting new Chinese fiction in translation. Our new initiative, Read Paper Republic, is for readers who wonder what new Chinese fiction in English translation has to offer and would like to dip a toe in the water.

Between 18th June 2015 and 16th June 2016, we are publishing a complete free-to-view short story (or essay or poem) by a contemporary Chinese writer, one per week for a year, 52 in total. Readers can browse them for free, on their computer, tablet or phone.

So, as of this week, they’re half way done. There’s a whole list of accomplishments on that page, but at its core, the simple process of publishing 26 stories, essays, and poems, is rather amazing. I can’t think of a better source for publishers to identify Chinese authors to publish in translation. And for readers, this is a wonderful way to get a sense of what’s out there. Definitely worth visiting and poking around.

Having just glanced through the twenty-six published pieces, here are two that caught my eye:

Painless, by Yerkex Hurmanbek, translated by Roddy Flagg

I love that name—Yerkex Hurmanbek—and the opening is pretty dramatic:

Nobody in the village noticed that my brother’s six-year-old daughter had chewed off all her fingers. Only her little palms were left, like two tiny shovels. But more mobile and fleshier, with a child’s warmth. She took bowls of food using her palms like pincers. The sight stopped her mother’s heart for an instant; the right ventricle blocked and wouldn’t let the blood through so the breath caught in her throat. It was a bit like when their pasta-maker choked on a lump of dough, or the neighbour’s tractor spluttered to a halt outside.

Regurgitated, by Dorothy (Hiu Hung) Tse, translated by Karen Curtis, also sounds really good:

The news that a son had been eaten came at three thirty-three in the afternoon.

At first the news was no more than a current of air brushing past the old faded clippings on the Democracy Wall and the apolitical colors of the national flag. Everything was scattered by the breeze like blossoms in azalea season. The professor bent down, and then further down, to pick up a broken finger of chalk in the classroom. As the news in his head gradually fragmented into an inverted vision, the classroom door suddenly burst open. From under the floor rose the hypnotic hum of a megaphone; the lily-white legs of the female students hung upside-down from the ceiling. Someone noticed a shudder pass through the professor’s shoulders, like an electric shock.

I think I have a think for cannibalism today . . .



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