Oct 24


Joel Martinsen at Danwei reports that the Lu Xün Literary Prize, awarded every three years by the Chinese Writers’ Association, has announced its latest group of laureates—but none was handed out for translation into Chinese:

For the first time in the history of the prize, the translation category was vacant. According to the Beijing Youth Daily, preliminary judging in September resulted in a list of twenty works from each category. However, out of forty translated titles submitted, just five made it past the first round: “To Axion Esti” by Odysseas Elytis, translated by Liu Ruihong (刘瑞洪); “Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon,” translated by Zhang Wenyu and Huang Xiangrong (张文宇, 黄向荣);”Travels With Herodotus” by Ryszard Kapuscinski, translated by Wu Lan (乌兰); “The Emperor’s Children” by Claire Messud, translated by Liu Shicong (刘士聪); “A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amoz Oz,” translated by Zhong Zhiqing (钟志清).

Intrigued by the unwillingness of the jury to award even one translated work—and we are talking about three years of publishing here—for a tad of insight I contacted Li Jihong (李继宏), translator of The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini), The Complete Conversations with God (Neale Donald Walsch), and The Year of Magical Thinking (Joan Didion). Here’s an excerpt from our brief Q & A:

Q: What’s your opinion on why the committee didn’t award any winners?

A: I don’t know why they didn’t select any award winners, but I found the names of the judges and the award shortlist on the web. Of the five shortlisted works, two originals were in English, one in Greek, one in Hebrew and one in Polish. There were a total of eleven judges, of whom only one knows Polish and one knows Hebrew, six know English and one knows Russian; but it appears none knows Greek. From the names of the judges and the works under consideration, the selection process was absurd. Furthermore, based on my own experience, among the six who know English, at least three of them don’t have the qualifications to sit as judges.  In today’s China, many things are a joke; the Lu Xün Literary Prize is just one among them. It sullies Lu Xün’s very name.