Summer Round-Up

Seeing as summer is here, and we’ve had a busy last 12 months, we thought it was time for an update! 2018/19 has been a bumper year for us – after our initial launch with the author Zhang Xinxin and translator Helen Wang, we’ve had a truly wonderful and diverse series of events in Leeds.

First things first, if you have the immense good fortune to be within commuting distance of Leeds, we are celebrating our first anniversary next week with a double whammy of fiction and poetry.

In the morning we have the literary translator (Chinese-English), author, theatre director and editor Jeremy Tiang coming to talk about translating the author Li Er’s 李洱novel Coloratura. Li Er is our July featured author. After lunch we continue with an event held in collaboration with The Poetry Translation Centre, and will be joined by the renowned Sichuanese poet Yu Yoyo余幼幼 and translator Dave Haysom.

Our October symposium, supported by a MEITS AHRC grant, was entitled ‘Space to Speak: Non-Han Fiction and Film in China and Beyond’. We had a truly inspiring array of speakers and discussions, covering Mongolia, Xinjiang, Tibet and Southwest China. Speakers included Mongolian author Guo Xuebo, translator Bruce Humes, Tibet literature specialists Prof Françoise Robin and Dr Yangdon Dhondup, Yi literature specialist Prof Mark Bender from Ohio State University, Uighur translator Rahima Mahmut, journalist and author Nick Holdstock, Brigitte Duzan of the wonderful Chinese Short Stories website, and several others. Once we’ve overcome the technical difficulties, selected video recordings of this will be available on our site.

Our one-off events programme in Leeds kicked off with the poet Xi Chuan (a truly wonderful speaker as well as a poet – if you’ve not heard him, and get the chance to, then take it! This event was in collaboration with the Manchester Literature Festival and the Bi’an UK Chinese writers network); the “ACA literature roadshow” with authors Yang Zhijun and Ma Pinglai; “Hong Kong Crime Fiction” with translator Jeremy Tiang; a workshop on “Women in China: fictions and realities” (with Lijia Zhang and Yan Ge. This was partly in collaboration with the Leeds Big Bookend and the Northern Short Story Festival); an afternoon of “New Writing from Tibet” (with translators/Tibetologists Christopher Peacock, Tim Thurston and Jane Caple. Thanks to Columbia University for providing some funding for this event); “Politics and Literature” (with Prof Perry Link, held in collaboration with East Asian Studies at Leeds); “Narrating Rural China” (with Renmin Daxue prof and author Liang Hong. ɪn collaboration with People’s ʟiterature Publishing House in Beijing); and then most recently an afternoon symposium/roundtable on “Marketing Chinese Literature” (with Prof Claire Squires from Stirling Uni, Jenny Niven from EICS and formerly Beijing Bookworm, Dr Zheng Yi from the Uni of New South Wales, Nicola Clayton from Silk-Gauze Audio and Ying Mathieson from ACA Publishing. This last event was supported by the University of Leeds Strategic Research Development Fund).

Our fifth Bai Meigui Translation Competition, translating a short story by Hong Kong crime writer Chan Ho-Kei attracted nearly 100 entries from all over the world and we are hugely grateful to our judging panel (Jeremy Tiang, Tammy Ho Lai-ming, and Natascha Bruce, the co-winner of our first translation competition!). The winning three entries were by Bill Leverett, Stacy Mosher and Kristen Robinson, with Bill’s version selected as the overall winner. His entry will be published in Pathlight Magazine. Winning entries will also be published on our website.

Meanwhile the winning entry of our fourth Translation Competition (for schools) was published in the autumn by Balestier Press and is available for purchase as a bilingual picture book – Happy Mid-Autumn Festival, by Meng Yanan, translated by Jasmine Alexander, a Y10 pupil from London. Jasmine also came to Leeds, along with her mentor Helen Wang, to lead workshops with us (one in person and one via a VT) for over 300 Year 7 children learning Chinese on the MEP programme from schools across the North of England. She managed to truly inspire many of the younger children who were in their first year of Chinese language learning, to think about the puzzles and fun to be had in translation and who knows – we may be nurturing a whole new generation of picture book translators! We are developing further resources for schools on our website – our Teachers Ambassador Dr Theresa Munford has written a great blog series for us on her work with the novel The Ventriloquist’s Daughter (by Lin Man-chiu, translated by Helen Wang, published by Balestier Press) if you want a taste of the possibilities.

Alongside all this, in Leeds we’ve had a successful fortnightly series of small but perfectly formed research salons for our affiliated PhD and postdoc researchers, ably co-ordinated by postdoc Joy Qiao, who will sadly be leaving us soon, and will be greatly missed, but the salons will continue as a wonderful legacy!  Our book reviewers network also continues to thrive, hindered only by our occasional lapses in energy to put books into envelopes quickly enough. We now have well over 200 reviews on our site (including reviews from school pupils from our Schools Bookclub Network).

None of the above would have been possible without the tremendous support we have received from our partners and friends at Paper Republic, the IOE Mandarin Teachers Network, Balestier Press, Penguin China, Blackwell Books and many other publishers and individuals, as well as the University of Leeds. A special word of thanks, in closing to Michelle Deeter and Jianan Zhang who regularly provide interpreting services for our events, often (as with so many things in our lives) at very short notice, and to Peter Edwards of the IT service at Leeds who has a rare knack of understanding what we mean to ask for and delivering accordingly.

We have lots of plans for next year, but would hate to spoil the surprise, so do keep checking our website/social media and you’ll be as up-to-date as we are about what is going on!