Chi Zijian, can literature help us face the epidemic?

With the epidemic, sales of Camus’ “The Plague” strongly increased in Italy and France. A good omen for Chi Zijian’s novel “Neige et Corbeaux” (1) (White Snow, Black Crows) which has just been translated into French with talent by François Sastourné and published by Editions Philippe Picquier.

The novel was released in China in 2010, as an anniversary of the plague in Harbin and Manchuria that killed 60,000 people in 1910/1911. Harbin is … Lire la suite

Sharlene Teo, horror films and literature in Singapore.

It’s a pity that Singapore and Malaysian literature is not reviewed more often. In Malaysia, there is a state-sponsored literary life for the Malaysian language and little international exposure, but for literature in English, writers like Tash Aw and Tan Twan Eng, are known all over the world. In Singapore, many writers are supported but also sometimes controlled by the government; cultural life has improved a lot in the last years.

This is why we … Lire la suite

The novelist Yan Lianke, with “The death of the sun”, paints a tragic portrait of the Chinese dream.

Yan Lianke is one of the most important contemporary novelists, who could become a Nobel prize winner. A major work, “The Death of the Sun” (La mort du soleil) (1) has just been published by Editions Philippe Picquier, which has done a considerable amount of work, with ten publications, to make Yan Lianke’s novels better known.

The book has been translated into French by Brigitte Guilbaud, whose translations of several of the author’s novels have … Lire la suite

Xiao Hong, the talent of a great novelist let down by translators, publishers, film makers…

In February 2014, I posted a short analysis of the works of Xiao Hong, one of the most important novelists of 20th century Chinese literature, who died in Hong Kong in 1942, at the age of 31, after a ten years literary career. The anniversary of her death in 2012 provided the opportunity for strong media promotion: theatre production, opera and a film “Falling Flowers” by Huo Jianqi which did not meet with the success … Lire la suite

Sanmao, a wandering and superstar writer.

Nearly thirty years after her death, she remains a celebrity in China and Taiwan; a million followers on her Weibo account. Her best-known book “Stories of the Sahara” (1) has just been translated into English. A huge success in 1976 and ten million copies sold after a serial publication by the Taiwanese newspaper “United Daily News”.

Her memory attracts Chinese tourists, even to El Aaiun, the capital of the former Spanish Sahara, where … Lire la suite

Jean Francois Billeter and Wen, a love of nearly fifty years.

Jean François Billeter is a well-known Swiss sinologist and professor emeritus at the University of Geneva. Some of his books are references such as “The Chinese Art of Writing” (1), which has been translated into English, studies on Zhuangzi (2), an essay on the contemporary history of China, “China three times silenced” (3). Other books deal with philosophy, politics, translation; the sinologist even becomes a polemist in his excellent “Contre François Jullien” (4), the famous … Lire la suite

Racial tensions, social inequalities in Malaysia, Tash Aw’s latest novel.

Tash Aw is the most famous Malaysian novelist; he was born in Taipei in 1973 and lived in Kuala Lumpur before studying law in Cambridge and working for a few years with a lawyer. He lives in London and currently in Paris for a few months.

Three of his novels written in English are translated into French. The first one gave him immediate international fame and a record advance fee. At the beginning of 2008, … Lire la suite

Qiu Miaojin, in Taiwan,her university years, her loves and the “Crocodiles”.

“Notes of a crocodile” (1) is a short novel, published in Taiwan in 1994, translated two years ago by Bonnie Huie for the prestigious New York Review Books collection, which had already published Qiu Miaojin’s best-known book “Last Words from Montmartre” (2).

It took more than twenty years for “Notes…”, which is a famous book in Taiwan, to be translated, a reference, a kind of lesbian code at the time. Qiu Miaojin, a writer of … Lire la suite

Wang Ting-Kuo, novels where love and ambition do not blend.

Wang Ting-Kuo is a famous novelist in Taiwan; his book, “My enemy’s cherry tree” (1) won numerous award in 2015 and was quickly translated into English after the success, the previous year, of a collection of short stories, one of which, “La Chute” is available in French (2).

These texts focus on two male characters of modest origin who try to overcome their frustration by building a professional success that will … Lire la suite

Anwar Ridhwan, a Malaysian novelist, questions traditional values and globalization.

Anwar Ridhwan is one of Malaysia’s best-known novelists and has benefited from numerous translations of his works written in Malay. He is a pure product of the system that governs literature in Malaysia both in his academic career and in his professional life as a civil servant. He is one of the thirteen writers declared National Laureate, but he has an international openness that others do not have. Two of his novels and some of … Lire la suite

Le Clezio, a Nobel prize in Nanjing and China

A book by Jean Marie Gustave Le Clézio has just been published, subtitled “Aventure poétique et échanges littéraires”, it is about “Quinze causeries en Chine” (1), fifteen lectures, selected by his translator and friend Xu Jun; occasional texts but also essays of a very high quality.

Xu Jun translated “Desert” in 1983 and then nine years later “Le Procès Verbal”. They then met in Nanjing, during a visit of Le Clézio and … Lire la suite

Cheng Naishan, Christian and daughter of bankers, a writer from Shanghai.

An exceptional environment, she was born in 1946 in Shanghai, in a well-known family of bankers. After 1949, the family spent a few years in Hong Kong and then returned to Shanghai. She studied in English and Chinese and finished high school in 1964, too old to be sent “to the countryside”. A year in English at a teacher’s training school; she taught until 1979, when she published a short story and then in 1982 … Lire la suite

“Soft Burial”, novelist Fang Fang and land reform in China.

A good novel has just been published, translated with talent by Brigitte Duzan, assisted by Zhang Xiaoqiu, “Funérailles Molles” (1), immerses us in China’s land reform.

Fang Fang is a Chinese novelist known for her neo-realistic novels and her love for the city of Wuhan. Born in 1955, she grew up in Wuhan, finished high school in 1974 and then had to work for four years in a factory. At the end of the Cultural … Lire la suite