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When the young meet the young

Mei Jia
Updated: Sep 24,2014 1:25 PM     China Daily

Young sinologists listen attentively to what contemporary writers of Chinese literature have to tell them in Beijing, Sept 18, 2014. [Photo by Mei Jia/China Daily]

When young writers meet young translators, literary sparks are ignited, which offers a visible promise for promoting Chinese works to a global audience.

Targeting younger generations of sinologists, the Ministry of Culture recently joined hands with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the China Writers Association for the Visiting Program on the Translation of Contemporary Chinese Works. The 2014 program drew 24 sinologists, who’re also translators of Chinese works, from different countries to Beijing.

As part of the program, an innovative “matching-making” effort was organized on Sept 18 to gather publishers, writers, translators and sponsors in a room for a whole day of discussion and exchanges.

Translators meet the creators of the books they’re working on in Beijing, Sep 18, 2014.[Photo by Mei Jia/China Daily]

It was a rare attempt to match the professionals, but the organizers said they believed the effort would shorten the distance between creators and producers of Chinese works, especially contemporary ones. And it also will add to the global appeal of Chinese works from an early stage.

Publishers shared their attempt to introduce Chinese works to the international market. Many of them agreed that the path is not an easy one, but it’s worth the effort. They also offered the writers and translators an invitation for cooperation.

“We’re looking for books created by the writers who have already accumulated a certain reception in the foreign market, who have a steady and recognizable style, and who’re no strangers to the foreign publishers,” said Li Bo, veteran publisher with Changjiang Literature and Art Publishing House.

Li said he believes Liu Zhenyun is among the top choices, as he is recognized for his humor and productivity.

Liu Qiao from People’s Literature Publishing House said the representative work they brought to international readers is the novel The Love of the Hawthorn Tree, which has been translated into 18 languages and gained the publisher $200,000 in royalties.

The Chinese writers, mainly of the younger generation, spoke about their stories and creations. Their stories won applause and resonance from the young sinologists, who spoke in fluent and original Mandarin, but were raised in a varied cultural background.

Among them, writer and editor Ma Xiaotao and writer A Yi’s humorous speeches stirred waves of laughter from the audience.

A sinologist responds to Chinese writer Ma Xiaotao’s speech in Beijing, Sep 18, 2014.[Photo by Mei Jia/China Daily]

Responding to the writers’ stories, sinologists from the Czech Republic and Turkey said the book market in their respective home countries is bigger than here in China, but the interest from the public in reading about China has been strongly increasing.