Translation

The Nursing Home Rightist

A political victim in his winter years, by Yuan Ling – translated by Jack Hargreaves

Ed: This is the second of two storeis by Yuan Ling, originally published in Chinese in One-Way Street Magazine, translated and published in English in partnership with Paper Republic. Read the first here.

I alight at Beigao bus station and cut through the tunnel under the airport expressway. Tractors and tricycle carts trundle past me beneath the low ceiling – entirely another world to the one atop the bridge. 

I cross a trash-strewn area and continue alongside the dry and scorch marked grass verge. I can see the pair of stone lions that guard the nursing home gate. A kiosk sits right inside as a reminder for visitors to buy something. 

Translation

Silent Children

Yuan Ling finds lost youths at a Chinese foster home – translated by Jack Hargreaves

One weekend while in Shanghai, I accompany some volunteers to Red Buds Foster Home for Children in the suburban Baoshan District.

Red Buds is in an old two-storey building surrounded by an iron fence. I shout through the railings for someone to open the gate and am greeted by a big beaming smile from the middle-aged man who comes to let us in. He’s great, the head of our group, Donkey explains – very welcoming whenever he sees us.

There’s something quite special about that smile and at first, I can’t put my finger on what. Then it occurs to me that he is always smiling, and it’s always the same smile. Donkey quietly adds that the man has learning difficulties but can tell good people from bad. He doesn’t open the door for people he doesn’t recognize and only smiles like this at the good ones.

Translation

Mo Yan Country

The rise of China’s Nobel-Prize winning novelist – Wei Yi, trans. Chenxin Jiang

This article from One-Way Street Magazine is published in partnership with Paper Republic. The translation was assisted with the generous support of Bill Bishop at the Sinocism newsletter, a daily digest of news and commentary on China.

On the afternoon of 12 October 2012, Mo Yan appeared at a press conference in a hotel meeting room that has since become famous worldwide. The hotel was in Gaomi, Mo Yan’s hometown, a small city in Shandong province in northeast China. Mo Yan was still wearing the same lilac dress shirt he’d been wearing the night before. He began by fielding two questions from reporters. Most of what he said quickly appeared online and disappeared just as quickly, perhaps because it wasn’t considered politically correct. Even before he’d won the Nobel Prize, Mo Yan’s politics had already been widely criticised as pro status-quo. In response, he said that his being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature was a triumph not of political correctness, but of literature.

Translation

The Picun Writer’s Group: Part Two

More stories from a migrant workers’ village collective – translated by Jeremy Tiang

This article from One-Way Street Magazine is published in collaboration with Paper Republic. The translation was made possible with support from Sinocism and individual readers via Patreon – donate now to join the effort and help us raise $300 a month to fund more!

Editor’s note: This is the second of two posts (read the first here) that brings stories from the Picun Writers Group, a collective of migrant workers who live in Picun (皮村) on the outskirts of Beijing, into English. The group came to international attention when an essay by one of its members, titled ‘I am Fan Yusu,’ went viral in April 2017 – which Ting Guo writes about here. But there are many other essays, vignettes and poems that the group has produced, which we believe deserve to be read. Here are a few more of them. – Alec Ash

Translation

The Picun Writer’s Group: Part One

True stories from a migrant workers’ village collective – translated by Jeremy Tiang

From the editor of One-Way Street: A few years ago, the Picun Writers Group caught the attention of Chinese society and the wider world of letters. This was not just because of their social status – they are not writers in the traditional sense – but because of their output itself, which comes closer to capturing realities than the work of many professional writers. Their words cut straight to the heart of our times, and roused the sympathy of readers. They clearly and comprehensively related the life changes of ordinary Chinese, which these days is more important than any literature technique, school or style.

The Picun Writers Group first started its community writing classes on September 21, 2014. Every week, volunteer teachers and fellow workers would discuss how to use writing to record and reflect on their lives. The workers gradually started to write and let their voices be heard. Nowadays their works have been successively published in a variety of nonfiction venues, and rising numbers of readers are paying attention to them and the communities they represent. This post is the first of two (the second will follow next Friday) that will bring some of their writings into English for the first time. – Wu Qi