2017-10-04 15:50:26 China Minutes
On 3rd October the English translation of Jia Pingwa’s Happy Dreams, was launched at the Guanghwa Bookstore in London. Translator Nicky Harman attended the event to discuss her translation of the popular Chinese novel.
Happy Dreams, Jia Pingwa, translated by Nicky Harman.
Happy Dreams records the journey of Happy Liu a Chinese migrant worker who leaves his hometown in the countryside in search of a better life in the city of Xi’an. It is a touching and personal depiction of the transformation of Chinese society in the face of industrialization and how it has impacted the lives of ordinary people. It applies humor to mask the challenges faced by Happy Liu on his quest.
During the launch Nicky shared her reasons for plunging into such a challenging translation. One of which was a connection with the writer, a fate which put a glow on the translators face as she read out an excerpt from the book followed by a burst of laughter invoked by the writer’s humour.
The audience, predominantly English and Chinese speakers were able to put their translation skills to the test by attempting to improve upon several excerpts of the book, “Tigers want to eat the sky, they just don’t know where to put their paws down” the book reads. Charles Willen attempted to improve on this with “he who reaches for the stars is only going to end up with sore arms.” It took a year to translate the book, requiring Nicky to bend the language in a way that would make sense to English speakers without losing the authenticity and cultural context from which it sprang.
Nicky has been translating Chinese books for twenty years and says that during this time “the demand for Chinese fiction has increased significantly.” Fortunately more English people are studying the Chinese language these days to keep up with such growing demands.
Guanghwa Bookshop will be holding a panel discussion at 19.30 on 21stNovember focusing on the book ‘The Ventriloquist’s Daughter’ attended by the author Man Chui Lin, translator Helen Wang and publisher Roh-Suan Tang.
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