December 2019/January 2020: Huang Beijia 黄蓓佳
Huang Beijia was born in 1955, in Rugao, Jiangsu Province. In 1977 she entered Beijing University to study Chinese, and began writing full time in 1984, joining the Jiangsu Writers’ Association. Her stories for children include Boat, Small Boat, A Song for Mother, When Reed Catkins Are Flying, and A Sea Far Away. Two children’s TV films have been adapted from her novels and won international awards, and several of her novels have been translated into other languages. She has won a number of children’s literature awards, and was nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award 2020. Her new novel Running Dai Erniu will be published in January 2020.
We’re delighted to be featuring Huang Beijia as our Author of the Month over this festive period, with a new translation of one of her stories – ‘From the Heart’ (心声) – by Helen Wang. This story, for young children, features a young boy who finds a kindred spirit in Chekov’s ‘Vanka‘.
You can read the story here in the original Chinese, and here in English translation.
Writing has become my life. There is no career in the world more suitable for me. It is a silk thread drawn from my heart, long, thin, and unbroken. If there is an afterlife, I hope I will continue to be a writer there.
– Huang Beijia
Her novels include You Are the Apple of My Eye《你是我的宝贝》which tells the story of Beibei, who has Down’s Syndrome, and must navigate a complex adult world when she is orphaned, and Flight of the Bumblebee 《野蜂飞舞》, a tale of hardship and survival set against a backdrop of war. Other books have explored issues such as one-parent families, bereavement, and friendship.
We’re particularly honoured that Helen Wang has translated one of her stories specially for our Centre this month. Helen is an award-winning translator, and has been a fantastic supporter of the Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing. She was awarded the 2017 Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation for her translation of Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan.
To find out more about her work, you can read an interview with her here, from Words and Pictures magazine.
And if you’re interested in finding out more about Chinese children’s fiction in translation, check out the Chinese Books for Young Readers website, set up by Helen, Minjie Chen of the Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University, and translator Anna Gustafsson Chen (after our Children’s Literature Day at Leeds in 2016!).