In her second essay for Wales Literature Exchange, Yan Ying, discusses taking Welsh literature to China.
Taking Welsh literature to China - Dr Yan Ying
The Rice Paper Diaries is the first book-length translation that was purposefully published as Welsh literature in Chinese, following the special issue of contemporary Welsh literature and art in the journal Foreign Literature and Art. This publication honoured the memorandum set up between Shanghai Translation Publishing House, Wales Literature Exchange and Bangor University in May 2014.
Fully aware of the range and number of audiences the international events in Shanghai offered us, Francesca and I took the opportunity to talk about Wales and Welsh literature whenever possible. Francesca gave a talk on Welsh women writers; we read poetry from Wales in Welsh, English, and Chinese translation, on the Poetry Night; we talked about the link between China and Wales at the book launch event.
And we heard people say, “I never knew Wales was not part of England,” and “I never knew Welsh is a language, so different from English”; we heard a female student asking for recommendations for readings on Welsh literature.
Welsh was not the only minority language heard during the literary week. There were writers and poets from Kazakhstan, Korea, and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Wei Shen, a well-known poet, expressed an interest in promoting Welsh literature in Xi Bu (The Western Frontier), a national literary magazine based in Xinjiang, of which he is the chief editor. The geographical, cultural as well as ethnical positioning gives this magazine a vantage point in taking on minority languages and literatures. Particularly, in view of the interest in Welsh literature generated from publications and events, I shall be looking forward to exploring the possibility of moving the current focus on the contemporary to an earlier era.
I would also like to take this opportunity to say thank you to a few parties: Shanghai Publishing House, as a top literary publishing house in metropolitan Shanghai, for their support in this endeavor to introduce Welsh literature to a Chinese audience, and for organizing various events and hosting us during the week; Wales Literature Exchange, without whose work the publication was unlikely to be possible.
A special thank-you should go to Cheng Jia for sending us, up against a tight deadline, the Chinese translations of the poems we read on the Poetry Night, and her effort over the years in translating Welsh poetry, particularly that of R. S. Thomas.
And of course, thank you, Fran, for your wonderful story, and company.
Shanghai Translation Publishing House announced their intention to buy the translation rights for the novel following a symposium on literary and publishing exchange between Wales and China organised by Bangor University in partnership with Wales Literature Exchange in May 2014, to celebrate the publication of a special Wales edition of the influential Chinese magazine, Foreign Literature and Art.
Francesca Rhydderch and Dr Yan Ying’s journey to China was supported by Wales Arts International and Swansea University, with additional hosting generously provided by Shanghai Translation Publishing House.