Bookworms burrow at conference on Chinese literature

Updated: 2011-05-03 07:54

By Yang Guang (China Daily)

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More than 180 novelists, poets, literary translators and researchers from 11 countries shared their opinions on the status of Chinese literature at the International Conference on Chinese Literature in Global Contexts.

Translation, interpretation and publication were also addressed during the three-day conference held from April 28 to 30, jointly organized by the China National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, Beijing Normal University (BNU), University of Oklahoma, World Literature Today (WLT) journal, and Chinese Literature Today (CLT) journal.

The conference was part of the Chinese Literature Overseas Dissemination Project, inaugurated in 2010 by BNU and WLT, one of the United States' oldest periodicals devoted to world literature.

The project also included two other related initiatives - the biannual CLT journal and the CLT book series.

The CLT journal, with WLT as its parent journal, was launched in summer 2010, to explore trends in contemporary Chinese literature and to create a conversation between Chinese literature and world literature. It features both original literary works and critical insights.

The CLT book series features English translations of contemporary Chinese literature, produced in partnership with the University of Oklahoma Press. The first 10 volumes of the book series comprise five novels by Tie Ning, Jia Pingwa, Su Tong, Li Er and Dong Xi, and five collections of dramas, novellas, short stories and poetry.

The first volume, Winter Sun: Poems by Shi Zhi, pioneer of contemporary Chinese poetry, is set to be published this fall. The others are due over the next three years.

Robert Con Davis-Undiano, executive director of WLT, describes the project as a "landmark initiative" to engage English-speaking readers with Chinese literature and culture.

A special session of the conference was the 2010 Neustadt International Prize for Literature award ceremony. The recipient was Chinese poet Duo Duo. The 60-year-old is the first Chinese laureate of the prize, conferred every two years since 1969.

Duo Duo is the pen name of Li Shizheng. He started writing poetry in the early 1970s and now teaches at Hainan University. He is considered part of the "Misty" school of contemporary Chinese poetry, a genre that emerged as a reaction to the "cultural revolution" (1966-76). His translations into English include two collections of poems and one collection of short stories.


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