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The 7th Bai Meigui Translation Competition: Taiwan writing

The results of the 7th Bai Meigui Translation Competition are now in!

We're delighted to announce the winner of this year's competition:

1st place - Francesca Jordan

Honourable mentions - Stella Jiayue Zhu, Will Jones, and Lucy Craig-McQuaide

 Congratulations to all! The winning translation is published as part of our Bookclub this May, and we've also partnered with the 'Bristol Translates' Literary Translation Summer School, to offer Francesca a place on this year's online summer school, which will take place in July.

While we are unable to provide individual feedback to contestants, below are some general comments from the panel:

“The entrants on the whole did remarkably well with navigating all the proper names of colonial-era Taiwan and rendering the disparity in milieux between the families of Hatsuko and her classmates.”

“It's incredible to see in exhaustive detail how different translators tackle the same text and turn up such varied (and lovely) results :)"

There was an impressive amount of research in many of the footnotes, which was much appreciated, although as ever the use of footnotes in literary translation does tend to divide opinions. One of the panel noted, “The entries are all conscientious efforts and some of the footnotes are actually helpful, but in my own translations if I could imbed the footnote in the text I try to do that.”

Language was clearly a challenge in this text, and the consensus was “Japanese makes sense for Hatsuko but that Mandarin is anachronistic for the time period, which doesn't mean that dozens of entrants were wrong for using it.” In addition to how best to render people’s names, other areas which the panel discussed in detail included plants, general readability, and the correct use of place names.

It was a difficult task for the panel, and there was lots of discussion, but in the end the decision about the winning entry was unanimous. In Francesca’s translation, “there was a cohesion and confidence in the English narrative voice that really just made the whole text read seamlessly.” And again, “it seems the most effortless”. The title was also very well done.

Congratulations to everyone who entered, and huge thanks to our judging panel for all their hard work!


The 7th Bai Meigui Translation Competition is now open!

This year's competition theme is on literature from Taiwan, as part of our Taiwan focus for 2021, with support from Spotlight Taiwan.

Our text for this year's competition is an extract from a work by author Yang Shuangzi 楊双子. We'd like to thank the author for generously allowing us to use her writing for this competition.

The competition text to be translated is around 1000 characters in length, but we've provided the whole piece for you to read as well. If you go to our Competition Text page, you can find the selected and full text.

The Prize

The winner of this year's competition will receive a bursary for the 'Bristol Translates' Literary Translation Summer School, which will run from 5th-8th July, 2021. (Please note that this year the summer school will be run entirely online). The tutor for the Chinese-English translation workshops will be the renowned translator Nicky Harman (who has been a long-term supporter of our Centre, and was one of the judges for our very first competition in 2015!). The winning entry and runners-up will also be published on our website.

Judging Panel

We're honoured to have a panel of renowned translators and scholars to judge the competition.

Susan Wan Dolling is a writer and writer-translator based in Austin, Texas, best known for her translation of Wang Wen-hsing's 家变, originally published in Taiwan in 1975, translated as Family Catastrophe, Hawaii UP, 1995. She has also published translations of classical Chinese poetry and post-classical short stories and prose pieces. Currently, she is working on a novel and experimenting on combining translation and story-telling in various forms.

Mike Fu is a Tokyo-based writer, editor, and Chinese-English translator. He is the cofounder and translation editor of English language journal The Shanghai Literary Review, and the English editor of bilingual art criticism magazine Heichi. Fu's translation of Stories of the Sahara by the late writer Sanmao was published by Bloomsbury and has received critical acclaim from the Paris Review, the Asian Review of Books, the TLSAsymptote, and other venues. He is currently a PhD candidate at Waseda University.

Darryl Sterk is a scholar (PhD UToronto 2009) specializing in the representation of Taiwan's aboriginal peoples in film and fiction. He is also a literary translator specializing in Taiwan literature. He's done a number of short stories for The Taipei Chinese Pen, and a novel, Wu Ming-yi's The Man with the Compound Eyes for Harvill Secker (UK, 2013) and Vintage Pantheon (USA, 2014). He has taught in the Graduate Program in Translation and Interpretation at National Taiwan University, and is now based at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.

How to Enter

The competition deadline is midnight (GMT) on March 31st, 2021.

Please send your entries as an email (MSWord) attachment to

In the body of the email please include your name, contact details. We’d also be interested to know your current country of residence, what you consider to be your first language, and whether you have had any translations published previously. This information will NOT be available in any form to the judging panel, but is useful for our records, and planning purposes for future competitions. (The only information that you must include in order to submit, is your name/contact details).

Please do not include your name/any identifying information in the attachment.

The winner will be announced in May 2021.

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

Good luck!