The Nobel-prize winning Tanzanian author Abdulrazak Gurnah will see all ten of his novels translated into Chinese. The news was shared by American linguist and translator Bruce Humes.
The Shanghai Translation Publishing House acquired the rights to all ten novels published in English between 1987 and 2000. At least five of these will be published in the first half of 2022.
The recent acquisition is an addition to a remarkable trend of Chinese translations of African novels in recent years. Bruce Humes, a translator of Chinese literature into English, has long maintained a dedicated list of African authors translated into Chinese. In 2018, he published a list of 66 African authors with over 146 titles translated into Chinese. By 2020, the list had grown to 100 authors with 238 titles, a 63 percent increase. [Go here to learn more]
Humes asked why rights to all ten books were acquired, Feng Tao, head editor at Shanghai Translation Publishing House explains it is part of their strategy to market a writer’s body of work:
Especially in the last decade, we have gradually evolved from publishing one or two masterpieces of important writers to marketing their writing as a whole…Classic and important contemporary authors are presented in the form of anthologies or series of works.
Gurnah’s novels will be published in the PRC’s simplified Chinese script. The publishers noted that while Gurnah’s recent Nobel win enhanced his appeal to Chinese readers, his very relevant and universal themes of colonialism, as well as conflict of racial integration and culture influenced their acquisition.
Congratulations to Abdulrazak Gurnah.
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