20 October 09 | Chad W. Post

This post originally appeared on the Frankfurt Book Fair blog. I highly recommend visiting the official blog for interesting posts from Richard Nash, Alex Hippisley-Cox, and Arun Wolf

Now that the Fair has transformed from a “professionals only” gathering into Cosplay Central, I found some time to swing by the official China stand. To be honest, it was pretty much the same stand that they have every year—just much much bigger. Taking up a wall of Hall 5.0, the stand is pretty impressive, but for me, it was rather difficult to figure anything out. And by “figure out” I mean find information about publishing houses I should be paying attention to to find out about modern and contemporary Chinese fiction. Yes, this is a pretty subjective approach, I admit, I admit, but really, I’m not that interested in books about Chinese texiles or the “Three Millennia of Printing in China.” And so I didn’t investigate those offerings all that closely . . .

If you are into that textile stuff, the China booth rocks! It’s flashy, it’s oversized, it is exactly what it’s supposed to be.

But. For the rest of you literary people, what you should check out instead is Paper Republic’s “The Best Chinese Fiction You’ve Never Read,” a manageable-sized brochure featuring information about specific works by six different authors: Jia Pingwa, Han Dong, Li Er, Sheng Keyi, Leung Man-Tao, and Liu Cixin.
Paper Republic was founded a couple of years ago by a group of native English speakers (most of whom live in mainland China) dedicated to the translation of Chinese literary fiction into English, and the website features sample translations, information about Chinese authors (including those who may not exactly be favored by the government) and a blog about Chinese literature and translation.

In October of last year, Paper Republic received a grant from the Arts Council of England to support the promotion of Chinese literature abroad. It is thanks to this grant that both Nicky Harman and Eric Abrahamsen are able to attend the Frankfurt Book Fair for the first time, and able to produce “The Best Chinese Fiction You’ve Never Read.”

“We know there are hundreds of fantastic authors out there, many of whom could never hope to get an official invite to an international bookfair-they are no friends of officialdom and work hard to maintain their independence as writers. This catalog is a chance to present them and their work to a wider audience,” said Harman.

In addition to the brochures, long (like 30-page long) samples from these books will be going up on the site over the next few weeks. A pdf version of “The Best Chinese Fiction” is also available online, and hard copies can be found in the Translators Center in Hall 5.0. For more information, please contact Nicky Harman at n.harmanic@googlemail.com.

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