Writing Chinese


Translating Taiwan: Talk and Q&A with Darryl Sterk

Friday 10th March, 4.00-5.30pm
University of Leeds, 11-14 Blenheim Terrace, Room 1.16

Refreshments provided, and bookstall from Blackwells Books

Join us for a presentation and Q&A with Darryl, a prolific translator of literature from Taiwan, whose works include the critically acclaimed The Man With The Compound Eyes 複眼人, by Wu Ming-yi 吳明益, and his latest book – Horace Ho’s 何致和 The Tree Fort on Carnation Lane 花街樹屋 (Balestier Press, 2017). Darryl also lectures in translation and interpreting at National Taiwan University.

Horace Ho is our March book club pick, so you can read more about him on our Bookclub page, and read an excerpt (in English and Chinese) of his book Offshore Island Bible 外島書, also translated by Darryl.

The event is free, but please register on our Eventbrite page to give us an idea of numbers.


Recent activities

Taiwanese Nature Writer Liu Ka-shiang in Leeds

Thursday 16th February, 5.30-7.00
Leeds University Business School, Maurice Keyworth Building, SR 1.15

Acclaimed Taiwanese writer Liu Ka-shiang will be in Leeds to tell the story of how saving the black-faced spoonbill also brought benefits to local farmers, and Tainan breakfasts!

Native to East Asia, no more than 3,000 black-faced spoonbills remain in the world today. In 1994, Liu Ka-shiang became one of the first to raise public awareness of the bird’s grave plight by publishing his nature writing in the media. Now the black-faced spoonbill is listed as an important wetland bird, and its protection has become an important issue across East Asia. In this talk, Mr Liu will trace the story of how saving the Taiwan habitat of the migratory black-faced spoonbill also led to the development of a model which enables rural economics and tourism to exist side-by-side. There will be time for Q&A.

You can find out more about the event, and Liu Ka-shiang, here.


back-from-the-deadLiterature and Law in China: Tales of Wrongful Convictions

Thursday 27th October, 4.00-5.30
Clockworkers North Building, Lecture Theatre 2.31 (Cinema)

Refreshments provided

We’re delighted to welcome Professor He Jiahong to Leeds, to talk about his work as a legal scholar and writer of detective fiction. Emily Jones, who has translated his novel Black Holes, will also be joining us to discuss her translation.


China’s party-run courts have one of the highest conviction rates in the world, with forced confessions remaining a central feature. Professor He’s most recent book analyses some of the problems in China’s justice system, highlighting the frequent causes of wrongful convictions and discussing the many challenges faced.

He Jiahong is also our featured author for October, and you can read the first chapter of his book Black Holes here, translated by Emily Jones.

The event is free, and all welcome!


bronze and sunflowerChildren’s Literature Day

Saturday 2nd July, 10.15-15.30, Parkinson Building Room 1.08

Free, but please book on our Eventbrite page by Monday June 27th.

Refreshments and lunch provided, and bookstall from Blackwells on contemporary Chinese literature.

To coincide with the awarding of the most recent Hans Christian Andersen Award to Chinese children’s author Cao Wenxuan, we are holding a special day-long event on children’s fiction in Chinese.

We’re delighted to welcome Minjie Chen, expert on Chinese children’s literature, and librarian at Princeton University, to give our key-note speech. And we’re also lucky enough to be joined by Helen Wang, Cao Wenxuan’s English translator; Katharine Carruthers, Director of the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) Confucius Institute for Schools; the translator Anna Gustafsson ChenValerie Pellatt, expert on Chinese translation and Chinese children’s poetry and nursery rhymes, and others involved in teaching and translating Chinese fiction.

Please see our Symposium page for more details.


Shih Chiung-yu

An Audience with Shih Chiung-yu 師瓊瑜

Thursday 5th May, 4-6pm, Parkinson Building Room 1.08

Free, but please book on our Eventbrite page.

Refreshments provided and bookstall from Blackwells on contemporary Chinese literature.

For our second Balestier Press author event, Taiwanese author Shih Chiung-yu will be discussing her work and her new novel Masked Dolls.
Masked Dolls

Shih Chiung-Yu was born in Taiwan in 1968. She grew up in Taitung, a village of aboriginal Taiwan.  Her writings involve stories of conflicts: conflicts between nations, conflicts between generations, conflicts between genders, conflicts between the East and the West. conflicts between racial prejudices. She has been a writer, essayist, news reporter and documentary filmmaker for many years. Awards she won include the China Times Literature Award, and the United Daily News Literature Award.

In Masked Dolls, an Australian woman, burdened by the original sin of her Caucasian ancestors, and a Taiwanese woman, haunted by the memories of 100 years of conflict in her homeland, meet as backpackers while travelling in South Korea. As they live and travel together, two women in flight, one from the East and the other from the West, struggle to find a way out of their personal dilemmas.

All welcome!


crystal wedding

Xu Xiaobin 徐小斌 and Nicky Harman in Conversation

Wednesday 20th April, 2.45-4.30pm, University of Leeds, Parkinson Building, Room 1.08

Refreshments provided and bookstall from Blackwells on contemporary Chinese literature.

We will be welcoming author Xu Xiaobin and translator Nicky Harman to Leeds to discuss the writing and translation of Xu’s novel, Crystal Wedding, published in March 2016 by Balestier Press.

The translation of Crystal Wedding was supported by an English PEN Translates Award. Xu Xiaobin discusses her relationships with literature, and the politics of being a writer in China in ‘Amid a Sea of Red Flags’, translated by Nicky Harman and Natascha Bruce, on the English PEN Atlas site here.

Xu Xiaobin is our book club author of the month for April, and you can read her story ‘Snow’, also translated by Nicky and Natascha, on our book club page, in Chinese and English. It was first published as part of the Read Paper Republic series of translated Chinese fiction.


WL_That_Damned_Thing_resized_400_250‘That Damned Thing She Said’: Four Short Stories From China

Saturday 19th March, 1.30-3.30 pm, University of Leeds, Michael Sadler Building, LG19

Free Entry (Please book your place on our Eventbrite page)

We’re delighted to welcome Read Paper Republic to Leeds, to hold one of their celebrated ‘speed book-clubbing’ events!

Following on from successful events at the Free Word Centre in London, Read Paper Republic will introduce you to the world of Chinese writing and of women in contemporary Chinese literature.

They’ve selected 4 short stories from China that focus on highly-charged issues such as sexual freedom, political disappearances, “left-over” women, and compromising situations. A woman trapped in a loveless marriage has an awkward, but ultimately empowering, one-night stand. A wife comes home to find her husband has disappeared, or rather “been disappeared”. The colleagues of a career woman apply their engineering expertise to the intractable problem of finding her a worthy husband. A young woman refuses to sleep with her boss, with catastrophic consequences for her family.

Download the stories by clicking on the titles below and read them in advance, then come along for some speed-bookclubbing!

You’ll get a chance to ask any questions you like. But most of all, this is an interactive event: we want to hear what you think, which ones you liked (or not) and what intrigued or puzzled you.

That Damned Thing She Said, by FU Yuli, translated by Nicky Harman

Missing, by LI Jingrui, translated by Helen Wang (This story was our November 2015 book club choice, and you can read more about it here).

Mahjong, by FENG Tang, translated by Brendan O’Kane

The One Who Picks Flowers, by LIU Qingbang, translated by Lee Yew Leong

Don’t worry if you don’t finish all 4 stories before the event – you can download a Cheat Sheet here which provides a brief introduction to each of them so that you can come along to enjoy the discussion and hear what the translators have to say.

Read Paper Republic is an ambitious project run by the Paper Republic collective of Chinese-to-English literary translators. They’ve committed to publishing one free-to-view short story (or poem or essay) a week for a year, from June 2015-June 2016. 4 of the Read Paper Republic translators will be at this event:

Nicky Harman translates Chinese fiction, essays and poetry. Her most recent publication is “Paper Tigers” (Head of Zeus, 2015), a collection of essays by the political blogger XU Zhiyuan (co-translated with Michelle Deeter).

Helen Wang translates for both adults and younger readers, her most recent book being the children’s novel “Bronze and Sunflower” by CAO Wenxuan (Walker Books, 2015).

Emily Jones’ most recent translation is “Black Holes” (Penguin China, 2014), a thriller by professor of law and novelist He Jiahong.

Roddy Flagg has translated many short stories for Pathlight: New Writing from China (Beijing).


Digital Resources Event, and Translation Workshop

We have two events coming up in November at the University of Leeds. Both are free and open to anyone, but for the translation workshop please book on our online store.

PaperRepublic Friday November 6th: Reading Chinese Online: Issues and Resources

Baines Wing Room 4.12, University of Leeds

Free entry (no need to book)

For this event on digital resources we are delighted to be joined by renowned translator, editor and publishing consultant Eric Abrahamsen, founder of Paper Republic; expert on online popular fiction and new media Dr Heather Inwood, and Sean McGibney, co-founder of The Chairman’s Bao, the hugely successful site for reading Chinese newspapers. For all students of Chinese, translation, and for anyone interested in reading Chinese literature in translation, genre fiction and the internet, and the use of digital technology in Chinese language-learning, this is not to be missed!


2.00 – 3.30 – Presentations by Eric Abrahamsen, Heather Inwood and Sean McGibney

3.30 – 4.00 – Refreshments and bookstall

4.00 – 5.00 – Roundtable discussion


eleanor goodmanSaturday November 7th: The 2015 Writing Chinese Translation Workshop

– Translating Contemporary Chinese Poetry: Reflections, Readings and a Give-It-A-Go Workshop

10-30am – 4.00pm
Michael Sadler Building Room LG19

Poetry experts and award-winning translators Canaan Morse, Eleanor Goodman and Dr Heather Inwood will kick us off in the morning with presentations and poetry readings. After lunch we will have a hands-on session, facilitated by Canaan and Eleanor, looking at some poems by contemporary prize-winning poets Lan Lan 蓝蓝 and Qin Xiaoyu 秦晓宇. The poems will be circulated a week in advance of the workshop. No prior experience of poetry translation necessary, but experienced translators also very welcome.

At the end of the event we will be launching our second Bai Meigui Translation Competition. See our competition page for details of last year’s competition and winners!

canaan morse

The event is free, but please book your place on our online store, where you can choose which lunch option you would like.

10.30 – 11.00 – Refreshments and bookstall from Blackwells’ Books.

11.00 – 12.30 – Talks, readings and discussion with Canaan Morse, Eleanor Goodman and Heather Inwood.

12.30 – 1.30 – Lunch

1.30 – 3.30 – Translation Masterclass

3.30 – 4.00 – Launch of the 2nd Bai Meigui Translation Competition


Short Stories and the Surreal: Diao Dou 刁斗 Reading and Q&A

Points of origin_COVER_final_PRINT.inddThursday 15th October, 4.30-6.00pm
Parkinson Building Room 1.08, University of Leeds

Free entry

We’re delighted to be joined by author Diao Dou, who’ll be reading from and discussing his work, alongside Samantha Clark from Comma Press. Comma have just published the first English translation of Diao Dou’s short stories, Points of Origin (translated by Brendan O’Kane).

Join us for wine and nibbles from 4.30, and discover more about these surreal stories and the author’s ‘literary acrobatics’!

Diao Dou is also our author of the month in October, and you can read one of his stories on our bookclub page, in both Chinese and English, translated by Brendan.

New Writing from East Asia – Public event

July 4th, 11.00am – 2.30pm
Northern Ballet (Board suite), Leeds City Centre
Free entry

As part of the Writing Chinese symposium, and in conjunction with the Leeds Writers Circle, we held a day of some of the most exciting new writing from East Asia. The day began with readings and Q&As by Murong Xuecun, Jeremy Tiang, and poet James Shea.
You can watch a full video recording of the morning event here (although we have had conflicts reported with viewing our a/v files on tablets or iphones…)

Following a dim sum lunch, our afternoon event was the official UK launch of Read Paper Republic. This new initiative from 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. There will be a story a week published on the Paper Republic website, from 18 June 2015 to 16 July 2016.

To celebrate this fantastic new project, we discussed ‘The Story of a Story’ – a conversation between with Dorothy Tse, her translator Nicky Harman, and editor of Pathlight magazine Dave Haysom, in association with the Free Word Centre and Paper Republic.

Read a blog summary of this process by Nicky, or view the full event below.

The Writing Chinese Symposium, 2nd-3rd July

University of Leeds, UK

IMG_20150703_134344832As the culmination of the first year of our project we held a series of fabulously interesting roundtables, bringing together writers, translators, publishers, academics and others working in the publishing field to further the dialogue about new writing from China.

Please see our symposium page for more details of the speakers, schedule, or to view the whole series! If you prefer a summary of the highlights, then check out our blog.



A Perfect Crime: A Yi 阿乙 Reading and Q&A

Tuesday 12th May, 5.15 – 6.30pm
Leeds University, Baines Wing, Seminar Room 3.06

A Yi

In the last of the Writing Chinese series of this term, we’re delighted to welcome author A Yi 阿 乙 to Leeds, on the occasion of the launch of the English translation of his new book, A Perfect Crime (下面我该干些什么), translated by Anna Holmwood. Very little crime fiction from China has been published to date in English translation and we’re delighted to have this opportunity to hear from the author first-hand. A Yi, a former police officer in Beijing, has written what has been described as an insider’s book — “an authentic evocation of the rhythms of small-town Chinese life and speech, from pool halls to police stations; part murder story, part exposé of contemporary China’s moral crisis.”


The reading will be in Chinese, with English translation.

There’ll be wine and nibbles from 5.15, plus a book stall from Blackwells Books.

This event has been made possible thanks to the support of English PEN.



Han Dong 韩东 and Nicky Harman, Reading and Q&A


Thursday 23rd April, 5.15 – 6.30pm
Leeds University Business School, Maurice Keyworth Seminar Room (1.15)
Free entry

In association with International Writers at Leeds, acclaimed author Han Dong will be joining us, alongside his translator Nicky Harman, to read and discuss his work. Han Dong is known as one of China’s most important avant-garde poets, and he is also an influential essayist, novelist and short story writer. Nicky Harman, one of the UK’s foremost Chinese-English translators, has recently translated three of his novellas, which are being published by Frisch and Co.

Refreshments will be provided, and there’ll be the opportunity to purchase Han Dong’s books.


Open Dress Rehearsal of Wan Fang 万方’s Murder


Wednesday 25th March, 5pm
Leeds University, Stage@Leeds, Alec Clegg Studio
Free Entry

The Staging China project at the University of Leeds, and Stage@Leeds, are bringing you a special opportunity to watch an open rehearsal of Wan Fang’s stage adaptation of her novel Murder 杀人.

Wan Fang is a Beijing-based writer, who has produced novels, short stories, TV scripts and plays. Her play Winter Journey 冬之旅 has recently been directed by acclaimed Taiwanese director Stan Lai 赖声川

The play is directed by Steve Ansell and will be presented in an abridged form using a new script translated by Newcastle University students, and the performance will be followed by a Q&A session with the director and cast. This production is part of a Staging China colloquium to be held at Newcastle University, dedicated to the issues and challenges surrounding theatrical translation and working with translated texts.

You can find more information about the colloquium here.

The UK market for new Chinese writing: the publisher’s view


Thursday 5th March, 5pm – 6:30pm –
Leeds University, Parkinson Building, Room B.10

We are delighted to welcome Harvey Thomlinson, CEO of Makedo Publishing, responsible for introducing a wide variety of new Chinese voices to a Western readership. Makedo publishes Chen Xiwo, Murong Xuecun, Lao Ma, amongst many others. As well as a publisher, Harvey is also an accomplished literary translator.

Refreshments will be available from 5pm.


Writing Chinese at ‘Reading the Fantastic’ – Dorothy Tse and the Surreal

Tuesday 3rd February 2015, 5-7pm – Leeds Humanities Research Institute (LHRI), Clarendon Place, University of Leeds

Writing Chinese is joining forces with the Reading the Fantastic research group this month, and will be at their regular reading group to discuss a story by Dorothy Tse, as part of their ‘Fantastic Architecture’ session. The other stories for discussion are ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’, by Edgar Allan Poe, and ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The group is for anyone interested in the intercultural connections of the fantastic. All are welcome!

You can find out more about the group and read all the stories at their website here.

And don’t forget that our translation competition features a short story by Dorothy. Enter for a chance to be published in Structo magazine and win a place at a translation summer school in London!


Book club discussion — Xu Zechen 徐则臣’s “Galloping Horses” and “Wheels are Round”


Wednesday 10th December 2014, 3-4:30pm – Cromer Terrace Boardroom, University of Leeds. All welcome – discussion in English!

This month we’re discussing two stories by Xu Zechen, in translations by Helen Wang and Eric Abrahamsen.

If you can’t make it to our book club meeting, head over to our Writing Chinese forum to join in this month’s discussion!



Book club discussion — Yan Ge 颜歌’s “Dad’s not Dead”

blackwellsWednesday 12th November 2014, 3-4:30pm. Costa café upstairs in Blackwell’s Bookshop, opposite the University of Leeds. All welcome — discussions in English! Blackwells are also stocking a special selection of contemporary Chinese fiction throughout this year, to accompany our programme. NB: This short story also forms Chapter 1 of the as yet untranslated novel 我们家, The Chilli-Bean Paste Clan.

If you can’t make it to Leeds for this, of course, do join us online via the Book Club and discussion forum links (email us to register).


Public Talk with Author Yan Ge 颜歌, and Translation Masterclass With Yan Ge and Translator Nicky Harman

White-HorseSaturday November 1st, 2014.

Public talk @11am – 1pm, Centenary Gallery, Parkinson Court, University of Leeds

For our morning event, which was open to the general public (no registration required), author Yan Ge and her translator Nicky Harman discussed their work together. Yan Ge’s novella White Horse, translated by Nicky, was released in October by Hope Road Publishing. And for a taster of more of Yan Ge’s work and why Nicky recommends it so highly, have a look at this recent article in Words Without Borders.

Translation masterclass@ 2pm – 5pm. Room 1.08, Parkinson Building, University of Leeds.

Our afternoon event was a literary translation masterclass, led by the author and her translator, and was open to anyone interested in the translation of contemporary Chinese fiction into English.

The masterclass was followed by the launch of the Bai Meigui Literary Translation Competition. For details of this, please click the Competition tab at the top of the page!

We were grateful for the support of the Creative and Cultural Industries Exchange, University of Leeds, for this hugely enjoyable event — see our blog page (and forum discussions) for a report on the day.

Book club discussion — Chen Xiwo 陈希我’s “The Man with the Knife”

blackwellsWednesday 15th October 2014, 3-4:30pm. Costa café upstairs in Blackwell’s Bookshop, opposite the University of Leeds. All welcome — discussions in English! Blackwells are also stocking a special selection of contemporary Chinese fiction throughout this year, to accompany our programme.

If you can’t make it to Leeds for this, of course, do join us online via the Book Club and discussion forum links (email us to register).


Chen Xiwo (陈希我) Reading and Q&A


On October 9th (4:30-5:45 in LUBS rm 1.06), we were delighted to be joined by author Chen

chen xiwo eventXiwo, translator Nicky Harman, and Make-Do Publishing’s Harvey Thomlinson for the official launch of ‘Writing Chinese’. Chen read from his new collection The Book of Sins (冒犯书), which was followed by a talk and discussion by Chen, Nicky and Harvey with lots of audience participation.

Chen’s visit was been made possible through funding by English PEN.


Drinks Reception and project launch

Thursday October 9th, 2014 @5.45 pm – 7.00 pm. Leeds University Business School Lobby

Following the reading and Q&A with author Chen Xiwo, our project was officially launched with (short but perfectly formed) speeches from Dr Matthew Treherne, Head of School of Languages, Cultures and Societies at the University of Leeds, and Professor Caroline Rose, Executive Director of the White Rose East Asian Centre. The Blackwells Bookstall did a roaring trade.

© Copyright Leeds 2017