The Chinese edition of acclaimed New Zealand novel Oracles and Miracles has just been released in China.
Not only the first-ever New Zealand contemporary novel to be translated into Chinese and published in China, the book is also a gift presented by the author, prominent historian and novelist Dr.Stevan Eldred-Grigg, and his translator Annie Shih, to the Chinese people in token of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and New Zealand.
Oracles and Miracles is a novel grounded in history. The book vividly portrays the past of the city of Christchurch, a city in which an old friend of the Chinese people, Rewi Alley, grew up early last century. Twin sisters are shown born into a poor working class New Zealand family. The twins grow up, go out to work, and search for love. The novel reflects the vicissitudes of the years from the 1930s to the 1950s in New Zealand.
Since its first publication in 1987, Oracles and Miracles has been one of the best-selling novels in New Zealand. The story of the twin sisters has been adapted for radio play, stage play and high school textbook.
The author and the translator told Xinhua in a brief chat that they are going to China for two launches of the book to be held by the New Zealand Embassy in Beijing and the New Zealand Consulate-General in Shanghai. The launches will be held during the last 10 days of this month. New Zealand's diplomats are sponsoring the publication of the novel as a watershed in cultural history.
Stevan Eldred-Grigg has visited China before. He said that China is a land which has always fascinated him from his earliest years of childhood. He also loves reading about China.
He said that over the past ten odd years he has been hoping to introduce his novels to Chinese readers. Now that his hopes have been fulfilled, he feels delighted by his success.
Ms Shih, from Taiwan, is of Jiangsu origin. She is the honorary president of the New Zealand Writers Association of Christchurch.
In 1999, when Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited New Zealand, he called on Christchurch Boys High School because the school is the alma mater of Rewi Alley. Shih was teaching Chinese at the school at the time. President Jiang had a few very warm words with her, and some photos were taken while he was giving a talk to the Chinese class.
Shih said that Alley's devotion to China for 60 years has been a role model for her in her own career. President Jiang's visit to her class was so exciting that she felt aroused to do more for cultural exchanges between New Zealand and China, and for the promotion of mutual understanding among the people of the two nations. She decided to take up the challenge of translating the 200,000 odd characters book into Chinese.
She said: "China is the homeland in my bones. My generation grew up sensing our parents' pain at not being able to return home. ‘Home,' a word always on their tongues, resonated in our hearts. Today, while taking this book to my parents' homeland and introducing the culture of New Zealand to my contemporaries, I'm also a small part of story of the two coasts of the Taiwan Strait. My happiness is heartfelt and hard to put in words."
(People's Daily August 5, 2002)