Sunday, April 24, 2005

Cao Zhenglu, Na Er

China Study Group has undertaken an ambitious project: translation of Na Er, a new Chinese novel by Cao Zhenglu (originally published in Dang Dai 5, 2004). Contribute to it if you can read Chinese. The novel, a critical examination of "effects of two decades of reform on urban workers" in China, presents a tough conundrum to translators, as its title as well as several key sentences in it turns on a pun in Chinese: "'Na er,' literally meaning 'there', is a mispronunciation of 'ying te na xiong nai er' (internationale) by the grandmother in the story" (China Study Group, "Calling for Translators"). "Na er" also means "where." The dream of international solidarity of the working class -- where is it to be found in China today?

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