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Translation in focus as China moves to share rich culture

Updated:2018-05-11 | By:China Daily

Translation has always been more about the yearning to connect with the world at large rather than just turning works from one language into another. And driven by this shared desire, many translators, writers and publishers from around the globe are now working together to share Chinese culture with the rest of the world in innovative ways.

At the 10th China Translation Profession Forum held at Peking University in April, the discussions focused on how collaborations between Chinese and foreign translators, writers and artists can help readers around the world better understand China.

Meanwhile, collaborations between Chinese writers and foreign illustrators have in recent years proved very successful in spawning foreign language translations of Chinese books, according to Zhang Yuntao, the chief editor of children's book publisher Tian Tian Publishing.

In 2013, Tian Tian Publishing and the People's Literature Publishing House jointly launched a project to get foreign illustrators to work with 64-year-old Chinese writer Cao Wenxuan, the winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2016.

Speaking about the project, Zhang says: "When we are translating and publishing books, we don't always know who the readers are. But working with foreign illustrators, who are very careful readers of our books, allows us to see how Chinese literature is received outside China."

The project involved illustrators from Italy, Sweden and Denmark and led to the publication of six picture books in a series called Chinese Seeds and Global Blossoms.

The books have been published in Sweden, Denmark and the United Arab Emirates.

Then, in February, two of Cao's picture books, Bronze and Sunflower and Feather featured on a top US literary list. Feather is illustrated by 52-year-old Brazilian illustrator Roger Mello, winner of the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award. And the book recounts a feather's journey to seek its owner.

Separately, foreign translators are also collaborating with Chinese magazine publishers to introduce their products to global readers.

Italian translator Patrizia Liberati works with Chinese editors on the Italian version of China's longest-running literature magazine Ren Min Wen Xue (People's Literature).

The Italian version of the magazine titled Caratteri publishes Chinese works that have not yet been translated into Italian. And its four issues published so far have featured espionage novel writer Mai Jia and 2016 Hugo Award winner Hao Jingfang among others.

Speaking about her work, Liberati says: "We want to introduce up-and-coming (Chinese) writers to Italian readers."

In a related development, the magazine published Wang Shuo's Dong Wu Xiong Meng (Ferocious Animals) as a special feature called "must-read books for Italian students".

Giving details about the feature, Liberati says: "I've always wanted to translate Dong Wu Xiong Meng ever since I was a college student, and at the magazine we finally did it."

As for Liberati's background, she is the Italian translator of Nobel Prize Laureate Mo Yan's work Tan Xiang Xing (Sandalwood Death), Wa (Frog) and Sheng Si Pi Lao (Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out). And Liberati, who has been translating Chinese literature since 2002, is now translating Jia Pingwa's Tian Gou (Sky Dog).

Zhu Zhenwu, 55, a professor of literature and translation at Shanghai Normal University and the Chinese translator of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, says closer collaboration between Chinese and foreign translators is needed when it comes to translating Chinese works.

Hu Zongfeng, a professor of literature and translation at Northwest University in Shaanxi province, has set up a workshop with Robin Gilbank from the United Kingdom to translate the works of Shaanxi-based writers, including Jia Pingwa and Chen Zhongshi.

The workshop's translation of the best-selling Chinese writer Ye Guangqin's Mountain Stories was published last July in the United Kingdom.