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Translating, culture a focus at coming book fair
By Yao Mingji

THE city’s annual book fair opens next Wednesday at Shanghai Exhibition Center, with a list of prominent international and domestic guest speakers including Nobel Prize winner Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul and Putlizer Prize winners Robert Olen Butler and Robert Hass, among many others.

Vidiahar Surajprasad Naipaul

The 81-year-old Naipaul brings to the city the latest Chinese translation of his work and a lecture titled “Literature and Translation: In Another Language.”

Translation, not only in the sense of interpreting the language, but also understanding and communicating with different cultures, is expected to be one of the hottest topics at the book fair, as many translators and writers will discuss and debate through various events.

Moving beyond the scope of translating the language, Chinese writer Huang Yunte will bring his book on Charlie Chan, the fictional detective created by Earl Derr Biggers. Extending from the famous detective, Huang will talk about the image of Chinese in American movies and literature.

The first Irish Literature Translation Prize will also be awarded during the book fair, to encourage more Irish books to be introduced to Chinese readers. It will become a regular event at the book fair.

French translator and linguist Pascale Delpech is among the panel of translators who will share their views. Delpech has translated works of former Yugoslavian novelist Ivo Andric, who won the Nobel Prize in 1961 and whose writing dealt significantly with history, folklore and culture of his native Bosnia.

Delpech has also translated the complete works of Serbian and Yugoslavian writer and poet Danilo Kis, whose nontraditional narrative structure, resulting in fragmented plots and perspectives, makes translating his work difficult.

A panel of Chinese translators, who were among the first to introduce many classic French books to Chinese readers, will also gather for discussion.

The literary traditions and writing styles in the two countries are so different that translating French books is often considered one of the most difficult. In early times, many French books were translated from English versions. The five panelists are among the first to deliver direct translations from French to Chinese.

Photographer Helene Banberger

Ma Zhencheng, 80, is famous for his translation of “The Little Prince” in 1991, still one of the most widely read and recognized Chinese versions of the book.

Zhou Kexi, a former mathematics professor who fell in love with French literature while studying math in France, has translated many classics, including “Madam Bovary” and “The Three Musketeers.”

The French-Chinese translators’ panel will also be part of events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of ties between the two countries. Another highlight of the celebration is the 100th anniversary of Marguerite Duras, one of the best-known French writers in China.

Many guests have been invited to remember and introduce the writer, including French photographer Helene Bamberger, who took photos for her for 15 years between 1980 and 1994.

The book fair’s organizer has scheduled various topical seminars, including the Shanghai Economist Summer Forum, serial talks from the Shanghai Association for Science & Technology, Super Bookstore Forum and academic seminars with economists, philosophers and historians discussing domestic and international subjects.

Date: August 13-19, 9am-9pm (Monday-Thursday), 9am-10pm (Friday-Sunday)

Address: 1000 Yan’an Rd M.

Admission: 10 yuan

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