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The Writing Chinese Symposium

Thursday 2 - Friday 3 July, 2015
University of Leeds

As 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.

The symposium structure followed the journey of a story from its origins in the imaginations of authors, through its progress through the publishing world and its translation into English, to its reception by readers, critics and academics. We held a series of roundtable discussions over the 2nd and 3rd of July, featuring our two guest authors, Dorothy Tse (謝曉虹) and Murong Xuecun (慕容雪村) and many other key figures representing the various stages of this journey.

The final day of our symposium was a public event of author readings and discussion.


See Sarah’s blog for some edited highlights of the fantastic discussions, or view the whole series below (we are aware of possible conflicts with some tablets and mobile devices and are sorry about this but we can’t get around it at the moment).

Thurs 2nd July

Venue: University of Leeds Business School, SR G31

Roundtable 1 – 10am-12noon
Writing Chinese: Inspirations and Creativity
Becoming a writer; The writing process; Choosing genres; Writers as public intellectuals; How to teach creative writing; Writers in a globalising world

Roundtable 2 – 1pm-3pm
Getting it out there: the dissemination process
Literary magazines and journals ; Literary websites and Internet Literature

Roundtable 3 – 3:30pm-5:30pm
Adaptation, Translation and Performance
Translating different genres; performing literature

Fri 3rd July

Roundtable 4 10am-12noon
Reading Chinese
Who reads new Chinese writing in the UK/Europe? Paper Republic / MyChineseBooks /Spitting Dog / China Fiction Bookclub/ Book reviews; what do these readers look for?

Roundtable 5 1pm-3pm
How to edit? How to sell a book? How to package a writer? Legal/copyright issues.
What sells and why? The importance of awards and literary festivals.

Roundtable 6 3:30pm-5pm
Where next for the project?



Dorothy Tse (謝曉虹) 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 story collection So Black (好黑) won the 8th Hong Kong Biennial Award for Chinese Literature. Her 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).



Murong Xuecun (慕容雪村) is the nom de plume of Hao Qun, one of China’s first Internet-based writers. A prominent social critic, he is known for his defence of freedom of expression. His debut novel, Leave Me Alone: A Novel of Chengdu, published online in 2002, became a cult hit and was subsequently published in print, with more than one million copies sold. It has been translated into English, French, German, Portuguese and Vietnamese.





Steve Ansell is Artistic Director at stage@leeds. Prior to this, he trained as an Actor at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts before gaining a first class degree in Popular Music at Bretton Hall College of the University of Leeds, and working as Associate Director and Director of Education at Harrogate Theatre. Steve is the Artistic Director of Screaming Media Productions and the founder of Gi60 (the worlds only international One Minute Theatre Festival which takes place annually in the UK, US and New Zealand) and is currently an associate artist at the Viaduct Theatre, Halifax. Steve has directed work in the UK and the US, including the premiere of Dennis Kelly’s ‘DNA’ at the National Theatre. He is currently working on a new adaptation of A Dream Under the Southern Bough by Chinese playwright Tang Xianzu and is interested in the concept and challenges of bilingual theatre.



katharine carruthersKatharine Carruthers is the Director of the Institute of Education’s Confucius Institute for Schools. Her research interests centre around three areas of specialisation: teaching and learning of Chinese as a foreign language in schools; the notion of intercultural competence in Chinese and UK schools; and globalisation and language policy.





Michelle Deeter is a translator based in Manchester. She has been translating and interpreting since 2007 and she handles everything from pesticide patents to frozen food packaging. She has recently interpreted for author A Yi at events in London, Leeds and Edinburgh, and has translated a story by A Yi for the new Read Paper Republic project. She holds a BA in International Relations from Carleton College (USA) and an MA in Translation and Interpreting from Newcastle University (UK).




Nicky Harman has translated authors such as Chen Xiwo, Han Dong, Hong Ying, Dorothy Tse, Xinran, Yan Geling and Zhang Ling. She is a regular contributor to the literary magazines such as Words Without Borders, and also organizes translation-focused events, mentors new translators and was one of the judges for the Harvill Secker Young Translators Prize 2012, and the Bai Meigui Translation Competition in 2015.




Dave Haysom has been living and working in Beijing since graduating from Leeds University with a degree in Classical Literature and English in 2007. He first started translating short stories at, and has since contributed to Asymptote and Words Without Borders. In 2014 he took over as joint managing editor at Pathlight, a quarterly journal of Chinese fiction, poetry and essays in translation; he is also chief editor of “Read Paper Republic”, a new initiative to showcase a weekly translation online.




Michel Hockx is Professor at Chinese at the School of Oriental and African Studies. His work focuses on modern Chinese poetry and literature. His most recent book is Internet Literature in Chinapublished by Columbia University Press.





Heather Inwood is Lecturer in Chinese Cultural Studies at the University of Manchester. Her book Verse Going Viral: China's New Media Scenes was published by the University of Washington Press in 2014. she has written Chinese-language columns for newspapers, websites and magazines in the UK and China, and dabbled in Chinese-language blogging and song-writing.





Marysia Juszczakiewicz is the founder and owner of Peony Literary Agency. Marysia has extensive experience of publishing in both the UK and Asia. Peony was the first agent to represent the recent Nobel Prize winner Mo Yan and sold English language rights for his novel Sandalwood Murders, and represents authors such as Su Tong, Yan Geling, and A Yi.




Li Ruru is Professor of Chinese Theatre Studies at the University of Leeds. She teaches both Chinese language and culture, and her research interest lies in intercultural theatre studies as well as Chinese theatre (both traditional and modern). Her works include The Soul of Beijing Opera: Theatrical Creativity and Continuity in the Changing World; Cao Yu (1910-1996): Pioneer of Modern Chinese Drama (photographic exhibition) and Shashibiya: Staging Shakespeare in China. She regards regular contact with the theatre as essential to her academic work. She runs traditional Chinese theatre workshops for both students and theatre professionals, and works with theatre companies. She also organizes the AHRC-funded project Staging China.




Jo Lusby is the Managing Director of Penguin Random House (North Asia). From her base in Beijing she manages a print and digital business that includes English, Chinese, and Korean language book publishing and sales. She is responsible for Penguin’s relationship with authors including Nobel laureate Mo Yan, Bi Feiyu, Paul French, and John Garnaut. Originally from the UK, Jo has lived in Asia for the past twenty years.



Bertrand Mialaret writes a regular column in the “Chinatown” section of the French news Web site Rue 89, and on his website posts articles that are more specialized and conducive to exchanges with other English language blogs on Chinese novels and short stories.




valerie pellatt

Valerie Pellatt is Senior Lecturer in Chinese Interpreting and Translating at Newcastle University. Her research interests include translation theory and practice, including transcreation and re-writing, and paratext. She has recently worked with Li Ruru and Steve Ansell on the Leeds-Newcastle Drama Translation Colloquium.





James Shea is the author of The Lost Novel and Star in the Eye, which was selected for the Fence Modern Poets Series, named as a Favorite Book of 2008 by the Chicago Sun-Times, and included in the Poetry Society of America’s New American Poets series. His poems have appeared in various anthologies such as The New Census: An Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry and Isn’t It Romantic: 100 Love Poems by Younger American Poets. A former Fulbright Scholar in Hong Kong, he is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Humanities and Creative Writing at Hong Kong Baptist University.




Harvey Thomlinson is the founder of Asia and UK-based press Make-Do Publishing, which in the last two years has published fiction by some of Asia’s best contemporary writers. “A groundbreaking imprint of new Chinese fiction in translation”, The Beijinger.) Harvey is also a literary translator and his rendering of Murong Xuecun’s novel Leave Me Alone: A Novel of Chengdu was a finalist for the 2009 Man Asia Literary prize.





Jeremy Tiang has translated seven books from Chinese, including work by Yu Qiuyu, Zhang Yueran and Su Wei-chen. He was awarded a PEN/ Heim Translation Grant in 2013. His own writing has appeared in the Guardian, Esquire, Ambit, Litro, Meanjin, Drunken Boat and Best New Singaporean Short Stories. He also writes and translates plays, including The Last Days of Limehouse (Yellow Earth Theatre, London) and an adaptation of A Dream of Red Pavilions (红楼梦), which will be performed in New York in 2016.



Helen Wang is a translator and Curator of East Asian Money at the British Museum. Her most recent translation is Cao Wenxuan's Bronze and Sunflower.