Championing Chinese literary works to readers across the globe
2015-12-16 Author : ZHANG KUN in Shangha Source : China Daily

The Shanghai municipal government recently kick-started a new initiative to improve the quality of translated works as well as promote the city’s publications and culture to overseas audiences.

Starting this year, the municipal government will set aside a sum amount of money dedicated to helping Chinese books from Shanghai publishing houses get translated and published abroad.
According to Xu Jiong, director of the Municipal Administration of Press and Publicity, only publishers based in Shanghai are eligible to apply to be a part of this initiative. This restriction has in turn encouraged many authors from other parts of China to choose Shanghai publishers for their new books.
Xu said that poorly translated literary works have been recognized as the culprit that has hampered the proliferation of Shanghai’s literary works to overseas readers, and that this new initiative seeks to address the problem.
He added that many countries around the world, including France, Ireland and Sweden have had similar initiatives to promote its literature and culture in foreign countries.
Another part of the initiative involves rewarding well-translated literary works with monetary prizes of up to $10,000 (63,955 yuan).
“During copyright negotiations, the two parties will at times face problems reaching agreements. The prize money should be able to come in handy and help close the deal,” Xu said.
Four books out of the 19 that were entered for this award were selected as the winners, sharing a combined prize purse of 230,000 yuan.
The four publications are French Concession by Xiao Bai (translated to English by Chenxin Jiang), The Old Cat’s Library by Jiang Xiaoyuan (translated in South Korea), Revolution and Forms: on the modernism in Early-age Novels by Mao Dun by Chen Jianhua (translated to English by Carlos Rojas) and Behind the Singing Masks by Wang Xiaoying (translated to English by Yawtsong Lee).
The company responsible for helping sell the copyrights of French Concession for translations into seven foreign languages was Shanghai 99 Readers Culture Co Ltd, and its president Huang Yuhai said that the company will continue to champion contemporary Chinese authors and titles to foreign publishers.
The company has experience selling numerous books by acclaimed Chinese authors such as Chi Zijian, Wang Anyi and Ma Daishu to European nations such as Spain, Sweden and France.
As this initiative is also meant to facilitate cultural exchange, books entered for this award must already be published abroad in at least one foreign language or have an effective publishing contract with a foreign publisher.
Judging was based on several factors, including how established the publisher is and the reputation of the translator in Sino-overseas exchanges.
“It may sound cruel, but we pay special attention to the translator’s portfolio,” said Xu, who explained that the translator’s role in breaking down the language barriers is vital in helping foreign readers understand the nuances in Chinese literary works.
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