Meet Anna Chen, Mo Yan's Swedish translator

By An Wei
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, December 14, 2012
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As Chinese author Mo Yan arrived at the Swedish National Opera for a performance on Dec. 13, three days after he received the Nobel Prize in Literature, by his side was Anna Gustafsson Chen, his Swedish translator.

Chen, a native Swede born in 1965, has been in the business of translating Chinese works to Swedish for the last 20 years. As of 2012, she had translated 20 Chinese novels, including Mo Yan's "Red Sorghum", "The Garlic Ballads" and "Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out". She also has translated works from other famous Chinese novelists, including Yu Hua's "To Live" and Su Tong's "Wives and Concubines." Chen has been honored by the Swedish Academy Translation Award for her work.

Chen was first acquainted with Mo Yan's work "Red Sorghum" in the early 1960s. "I read Ge Haowen's English translation in a bookstore. Then, in Sweden it wasn't easy to find Chinese books. I found ["Red Sorghum"] interesting and later bought the Chinese version and tried to translate it," she said.

Although Mo Yan wrote the first draft of "Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out" in only 43 days, Chen spent six years translating it into Chinese. After initial success, she would go on to translate Zhang Wei's "The Ancient Ship" and Mo Yan's "Forty-one Cannons" and "Frogs".

Chen says her work has opened up a window to the world which few of her countrymen have explored.

"Learning Chinese has let me know that Sweden and the Western world are not the center of the world," she said. "In fact, where a person is, that's where the center of his world is."


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