Welcome to Chinese books for young readers!
On 2 July 2016 the Writing Chinese project at Leeds University organised a symposium on Chinese children’s literature. Minjie Chen of the Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University gave the keynote presentation – a wonderful overview of Chinese children’s books – , and Anna Gustafsson Chen and I gave shorter talks offering our perspectives as translators. That weekend we decided to start this website and blog!
So what have we been doing over the summer?
Minjie spent the summer travelling, first to Qingdao to attend the International Symposium for Children’s Literature (首届国际儿童文学论坛暨第三届中美儿童文学论坛), and then to the symposium in Leeds. She has written about both of them here. After Leeds she flew on to Shanghai (via the airport library at Abu Dhabi), and visited the Shanghai Library, a Shanghai children’s bookstore, the residence of Zhang Leping (creator of Sanmao), and the shadow play museum in Qibao. She’s written about her travels here.
Anna went to China this summer too, for the Sino-Foreign Literature Translation and Publishing Workshop (2016 年中外文学出版社翻译研修班) and the Beijing International Book Fair, where she took part in a BIBF Literary Salon entitled “Writing Between the Lines” with Wolfgang Kubin and Eric Abrahamsen. She also met children’s author Gerelchimeg Blackcrane.
I didn’t go to China, but I did go to two very interesting events. The first was “Too Cute to Kill? From the Depiction of Animals in Children’s Literature to the Framing of Government Policy by Adults”, a 2-day workshop at the University of Surrey, 21-22 July. You can read my abstract in the programme. It was a truly interdisciplinary conference and so interesting! At the end of the first day I went home and found images showing the Chinese editions of the books and films that had been mentioned that day, and added them into my talk on the second day. It was a very visual way of showing the huge imbalance – so much is translated INTO Chinese, and so little is translated INTO English. And a reminder that we can’t really talk about “universal” values if we’re only reading what’s available in English.
The second event was the European Association of Chinese Studies (EACS) conference, in St Petersburg, 23-28 August. At a panel on Translation Studies, Paolo Magagnin, the Italian translator of Cao Wenxuan’s 青铜葵花 [Bronze and Sunflower] talked about his experience of translating this book, drawing particular attention to the editing process. If you’re wondering why the title of the Italian translation was shortened to Girasole [Sunflower], apparently it’s because Bronzo was thought to rhyme too closely with a very rude word (stronzo).
In August, Cao Wenxuan went to New Zealand to receive his Hans Christian Andersen Author Award (video here). Since winning this prestigious prize on 4 April, Cao has published another novel 《蜻蜓眼》 [Dragonfly Eyes], and finished writing the next one!
We’re delighted to launch this blog during #WorldKidLit Month!