A month after HFR #49 came out, I moved to Shanghai. Shanghai is a city full of noise: my apartment overlooks rows of pre-fab housing, a construction site, a parking lot filled with motorcycles, a busy fruit stall, a bottled water stall, and a road named after the capital. A book is the only quiet thing there is...
But that’s all a bit of a cliché, so this summer I’ve decided to destroy my last quiet moments by making some noise about a few books I love. I am curating a pop-up book club that’s running in parallel across three cities for three months this summer: London, Shanghai, and Beijing. We’re covering some of the best new literary writing published in Chinese -- fresh writing, but also something we think people will still want to read in 20 years’ time. The group has just gotten started: in June we’re reading three stories by the Nanjing-based author Han Dong about a cat, a ferry and an execution. In July we’re reading a Taiwanese playwright Chi Wei-Jan’s bestselling debut novel about a private detective.
We want to host an intelligent, normally civilized, and always passionate debate about these books. When we find a title we think worth publishing in English, we’ll recommend it to the editorial team at And Other Stories, the London-based publisher sponsoring this project. If you already read Hayden’s Ferry Review, you automatically have “good taste” (i.e. “our taste”), and would be very welcome to join us in discovering the best novels and short stories in China and Taiwan that haven’t yet been translated into English. Act swiftly. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “HFR: Summer reading group” and specify whether you read Chinese.
I’ll keep HFR blog readers updated next month on this collective reading enterprise.
Chenxin Jiang studied literature and translation at Princeton University. Her translations have been published/are forthcoming in Words Without Borders, no man’s land, Pathlight: New Chinese Writing, Poetry London, World Literature Today, and Renditions. Last year, she received a PEN Translation Fund grant and the 2011 Susan Sontag Prize for Translation. For HFR #49, she translated a poem by the Berlin-based poet Jan Wagner.