Literature is a powerful tool that can help deepen our understanding of China’s immense complexity. But what if we are reading the wrong books? Are publishers and reviewers—both in China and the US—driven too much by out-of-date political and ideological prisms? As it turns out, many of China’s most popular novels never make it into English at all. On February 24, three superstar Chinese-English translators will debate the biases that impact the books we get to read.
This event is co-presented with Paper Republic, a platform to promote Chinese literature in translation, in conjunction with the upcoming launch of its Field Guide to Contemporary Chinese Literature.
Eric Abrahamsen is a translator and publishing consultant living in Seattle, WA. His translations have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, and n+1, among other venues, and he is the recipient of translations grants from PEN and the NEA. He helps run Paper Republic, promoting the translation of Chinese literature into English, and also works with the Seattle City of Literature organization.
Nicky Harman lives in the UK and translates full-time from Chinese, focusing on fiction, literary non-fiction, and occasionally poetry. When not translating, she works on Paper-Republic.org, a non-profit website promoting Chinese literature in translation, where she is also a Trustee. She organizes translation-focused events, mentors new translators, gives regular talks and workshops on translation, and judges translation competitions. She was co-Chair of the Translators Association (Society of Authors, UK) from 2014 to 2017. She blogs on Asian Books Blog, and tweets, with Helen Wang, as China Fiction Book Club @cfbcuk.
Jianan Qian is a staff writer at The Millions. She writes in both Chinese and English. In Chinese, she has published four original works and translated four books, including Flannery O’Connor’s Mystery and Manners and The Habit of Being. In English, she is a staff writer at The Millions. Her works have appeared in The New York Times, Granta Magazine, Guernica Magazine, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and English at the University of Southern California.