Writing Chinese

The Inaugural Bai Meigui Competition: Fiction

After long and challenging deliberations by our judging panel, the joint first place winners of our competition were:-

Natascha Bruce 

and

Michael Day

The two winning entries have been published in issue 14 of Structo magazine, and both Natascha and Michael were awarded a bursary to the “Translate in the City” summer school.

The following runners-up were highly commended by our panel:-

Karen Curtis

Seth Griffin

Kristen Robinson

Andrew Wormald

Many congratulations to all our winners. Their translations, along with the competition text by Dorothy Tse, can be found in the menu on on the left. Some comments from our judging panel below:-

“It was great to see so many different, strong approaches amongst the entries and we much enjoyed discussing their merits and choosing the ones we thought worked best.  We particularly liked it when it felt as though the translator had got inside the story and was telling it him or herself, when the English language was sharp and alive, and when there was a consistent style throughout the piece. We agreed that the ultimate criteria had to be both accuracy and skill at rendering the author’s style in English, in such a way that would honour the author’s intentions and serve the general reader best.

Both winning entries successfully captured the unease shimmering just beneath the surface, and reflected the sensuousness of the story. Their translations had zest and carried conviction – we felt that the translators approached their task with relish.

As regards the other entries, they had much to recommend them and we were very impressed by the overall quality. The surrealism posed particular challenges, and we sensed that when translators had trouble with some of the more obscure bits, they resolved it by sticking close to the original. In some of the translations, we felt the register was a little too high: after all, the narrator was a young boy, and ‘yet’ and ‘merely’ seemed inappropriate. On the other hand, in most entries, the snippets of dialogue were rendered with real flair, in natural-sounding, colloquial English.

Our congratulations to the two winners, who fulfilled all our criteria and yet produced two very different versions, and to the four runners-up. We are delighted that both winners will be offered a place at the Translate in the City summer school and that their translations will both be published in Structo magazine.”

Nicky, Jeremy and Helen.

General

The competition is free to enter, and open to anyone, in any country, with an interest in translation. The judging panel includes the prominent literary translators Nicky Harman, Jeremy Tiang and Helen Wang.

Prize

We are delighted to announce that the winning entry will be published in the September edition of the acclaimed literary magazine Structo.

Moreover, due to a generous grant via the Higher Education Funding Council for England and WREAC, the winner will also be eligible for a full bursary to attend the July 2015 summer school in translation in London, Translate in the City. This bursary is worth nearly £500 and we are very grateful to HEFCE and WREAC for this donation.

About the Text

dorothy tseOne of the key aims of the Writing Chinese project is to bring the most exciting new writing in Chinese to a wider audience, as well as to foster dialogue between new and established translators. As such, we’re delighted that one of the most interesting voices in contemporary fiction in Chinese – Dorothy Tse Hiu-hung (謝曉虹) – has agreed not only to share her work with us for this competition, but also to join us at our symposium in Leeds this summer.

Dorothy is an award-winning Hong Kong author and teaches creative writing at Hong Kong Baptist University. She is also a co-founder of the respected literary magazine Fleurs des Lettres (字花).  Her short stories are noted for their surrealism, and a selection of them have been translated by Nicky Harman and published in an anthology entitled Snow and Shadow (HK: Muse, 2014). As Nicky describes in her introduction (p 9-11), she writes “surreal tales—fantastic in parts—but made the more effective for being grounded firmly in reality… Dreamscapes interlock with a narrative which, though superficially realistic, itself feels quite unreal.”
Snow_And_Shadow

The story we’ve chosen for the competition is one of a selection of thirteen of Dorothy’s very short stories, published as “Monthly Matters”. Three of these were included in Snow and Shadow, this one is, as yet, untranslated…

You can find the text, in both traditional and simplified characters, on the left of this page.

To enter

The competition deadline is February 28th, 2015. Please send your entries as an email (pdf) attachment to writingchinese@leeds.ac.uk.

In the body of the email please include your name, first language (or language of habitual use), and indicate whether, if you are selected as the winner, you would be available to attend the summer school, from 6-10 July 2015, at the City University London.  This information will not be available to the judging panel, who will judge all entries anonymously.

NB: the bursary covers all tuition/refreshments as stated on the site, but entrants are responsible for paying their own accommodation. The bursary is non-transferable, is awarded upon agreement with City University, and there is no cash alternative. If the winner is unable to take up this place, we reserve the right to reallocate the bursary to another short-listed entrant, or to decide not to award the bursary this year.

Please note that we will not normally be able to provide feedback on entries, but thank you, in advance, for your submission.

Good luck!

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