Shenzheners

Xue Yiwei. Translator Darryl Sterk

September 2016

The first book in English by acclaimed Chinese-Canadian writer Xue Yiwei, Shenzheners is inspired by the young city of Shenzhen, a market town north of Hong Kong that became a Special Economic Zone in 1980 as an experiment in introducing capitalism to Communist China. A city in which everyone is a newcomer, Shenzhen has grown astronomically to become a major metropolitan centre. Hailed as a Chinese Dubliners, the original collection was named one of the Most Influential Chinese Books of the Year in 2013, with most of the stories appearing in Best Chinese Stories. 

Shenzheners
is the winner of the 2017 Blue Metropolis / Montreal Arts Council Prize for Literary Diversity.


Author Xue Yiwei:
Xue Yiwei is an award-winning Chinese writer born in Chenzhou and raised in Changsha, in Hunan province. He has a B.Sc. in Computer Science from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, an M.A. in English Literature from Université de Montréal, and a Ph. D. in Linguistics from Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. He has taught Chinese literature at Shenzhen University and is the author of sixteen books, including four novels—Desertion (1989, reissued 2012), Dr. Bethune’s Children (2011), Farewells from a Shadow (2013), and Empty Nest (2014)—and five collections of stories. He lives in Montreal.


Translator Darryl Sterk:
Darryl Sterk is a Canadian literary translator specializing in fiction in Mandarin Chinese, including Wu Ming-Yi’s The Man With the Compound Eyes (Harvill Secker; Vintage Pantheon) and Horace Ho’s The Tree Fort Over Carnation Lane (Balestier). He teaches translation in the Graduate Program of Translation and Interpretation at National Taiwan University and lives in Taipei.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

"One of the biggest surprises of the year was the news that a writer widely read and respected in China was living in Montreal in almost total anonymity, his work untranslated, his reputation an unshared secret. Xue Yiwei’s Shenzheners (Linda Leith Publishing, translated by Darryl Sterk), set in the author’s former home city, takes the template of Joyce’s Dubliners for a set of loosely connected stories that add up to an emotionally affecting cubistic street-level portrait of China’s newest megalopolis. Introducing Yiwei to the English-reading world was a coup for LLP, whose strong year overall included essential books from Martine Delvaux (The Last Bullet Is For You, a reimagining, translated by David Homel, of Elizabeth Smart’s By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept) and Jack Hannan (the sui generis The Poet Is a Radio, in which 8th-century Chinese poet Li Bai washes up in 21st-century Montreal)." -- Ian McGillis, The Gazette, Dec. 16, 2016.


Review by Richard King ‏@richardking18 on CBC Radio Homerun, Nov 16:
@cbcHomerun I raved about Shenzheners by Xue Yiwei. A perfect collection of short stories, excellent intro to work of author @LL_Publishing.


"What Xue Yiwei does is shine an unflinching light on the lives of people in contemporary China, and, in doing so, questions the price that China is paying for this “modern” society—a question that China (and perhaps all of us) ignores at its peril." -- Judy Fong Bates, "Trapped in Shenzhen. Folktales from a hyper-modern 21st-century city," Literary Review of Canada, Nov. 2016, p. 18

$18.95 | ISBN: 9781988130071

$ 8.95 | ISBN: 9781988130040

$ 8.95 | ISBN: 9781988130057

$ 8.95 | ISBN: 9781988130064

What they say
One of the biggest surprises of the year
CBC

January 17, 2017: That's Beijing on Xue Yiwei's first collection in English, Shenzheners.

January 4, 2017: Xue Yiwei on why writing in inherently political. CBC Books's Magic 8.

December 24, 2016:

"One of the biggest surprises of the year was the news that a writer widely read and respected in China was living in Montreal in almost total anonymity, his work untranslated, his reputation an unshared secret.

"Xue Yiwei’s Shenzheners (Linda Leith Publishing, translated by Darryl Sterk), set in the author’s former home city, takes the template of Joyce’s Dubliners for a set of loosely connected stories that add up to an emotionally affecting cubistic street-level portrait of China’s newest megalopolis.

Introducing Yiwei to the English-reading world was a coup for LLP, whose strong year overall included essential books from Martine Delvaux (The Last Bullet Is For You, a reimagining, translated by David Homel, of Elizabeth Smart’s By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept) and Jack Hannan (the sui generis The Poet Is a Radio, in which 8th-century Chinese poet Li Bai washes up in 21st-century Montreal)." -- Ian McGillis, The Gazette.

Review by Richard King ‏@richardking18 on CBC Radio Homerun, Nov 16:
@cbcHomerun I raved about Shenzheners by Xue Yiwei. A perfect collection of short stories, excellent intro to work of author @LL_Publishing.

"What Xue Yiwei does is shine an unflinching light on the lives of people in contemporary China, and, in doing so, questions the price that China is paying for this “modern” society—a question that China (and perhaps all of us) ignores at its peril." -- Judy Fong Bates, "Trapped in Shenzhen. Folktales from a hyper-modern 21st-century city," Literary Review of Canada, Nov. 2016, p. 18


Xue Yiwei mingles with the crowd at Montreal's Drawn &
Quarterly bookstore.
[Photo: Linda Leith]


Shelley Pomerance's review of Shenzheners in Montréal Centre-Ville, November 2016, p. 59: "With their simple, direct language, these tales read like parables. They are absurd, puzzling, dark."

Jade Colbert's review in The Globe and Mail

Shenzheners,  by Xue Yiwei, translated by Darryl Sterk, Linda Leith, 188 pages, $18.95. Review by Jade Colbert, The Globe and Mail, 10 September 2016

"In the opening story to Xue Yiwei’s collection, a chance encounter on a train to Montreal leads a Canadian woman to leave her life near Trois-Rivières for Shenzhen. For both character and reader, Montreal becomes a portal to “China’s youngest city,” but the book’s dedication brings another city into the mix: “To the Irishman who inspires me” – Shenzheners is Xue’s Dubliners. It is also Xue’s first book translated into English, though he’s an acclaimed author in China and has lived in Canada since 2002. Shenzhen, which lies just north of Hong Kong, was a market town until 1980, when China designated it a Special Economic Zone. Today, metro Shenzhen’s population breaks 18 million. Perhaps in response to this astronomical growth, the people who variegate Xue’s stories share a sense of psychological solitude (alternative reading: emotional isolation) cut through with moments of intense personal connection. A quiet but intimate interlocution with the city."

Feature article in The Gazette, 25 August, 2016, by Ian McGillis:
"One of the most acclaimed and widely read of Chinese writers has, it turns out, been hiding in plain sight in Montreal for almost 15 years, his work untranslated worldwide even while his reputation in his homeland continues to grow. Wide-ranging and prolific — he has even recently been rewriting a considerable portion of his already-published ouevre — Yiwei, 52, finally gets his introduction to English readers with the appearance of Shenzheners (Linda Leith Publishing, 176 pages, $18.95)." 

Steven Beattie writes, in his Quill & Quire review (September), "The subject of translation is introduced in the opening story--the only one not set in China--and will persist, either literally or metaphorically, across the eight pages that follow."

Bethany Or reviews Xue Yiwei's Shenzheners in Montreal Review of Books (Summer 2016): 
"Shenzheners is full of quietly devastating moments played out through the unsaid but deeply felt, not unlike the emotional landscapes portrayed in Ha Jin’s novel A Free Life, or Wong Kar-Wai’s film In the Mood for Love. Though oftentimes dark, Xue’s world is truthful, and manages to capture the strange poetry of life’s awkwardness."

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