(Note: This is an excerpt from my translation of <额尔古纳河右岸>, known as The Last Quarter of the Moon in English, a novel documenting the lives of an Evenki clan in the Greater Khingan Mountains near the Sino-Russian border, where they existed in relative isolation herding their reindeer and hunting, from the 1930s up to the early 1990s, when they were relocated by the government to Genhe City in Inner Mongolia)
From the Mountains to the Sea
The birth of a literary work resembles the growth of a tree. It requires favorable circumstances.
Firstly, there must be a seed, the Mother of All Things. Secondly, it cannot lack for soil, nor can it make do without the sunlight’s warmth, the rain’s moisture or the wind’s caress.
In the case of The Last Quarter of the Moon, however, first there was soil, and only then was there a seed. For this land that turns muddy as the ice thaws in the spring, is shaded by green trees in the summer and is covered by motley leaves in the autumn and endless snow-white in the winter, is very familiar to me.
After all, I was born and raised on this land. As a child entering the mountains to fetch firewood, more than once I discovered an odd head-shape on a thick tree trunk. Father told me that was the image of the Mountain Spirit Bainacha, carved by the Oroqen.
I knew the Oroqen were an ethnic minority who lived on the outskirts of our mountain town. They resided in their open-top cuoluozi (teepees) where they could spy the stars at night. In the summer they fished in their birch-bark canoes, and in the winter they hunted in the mountains wearing their parka and roe-deerskin boots. They liked to go horse riding, drink liquor and sing songs. In that vast and frigid land, their small tribe was like a pristine spring trickling deep in the mountains. Full of vitality, yet solitary.
I once believed that the masses of forestry workers, those loggers, were the genuine masters of the land, while the Oroqen in their animal hides were aliens from another galaxy. Only later did I learn that before the Han came to the Greater Khingan Range, the Oroqen had long lived and multiplied on that frozen land. . .
To read the rest of the Afterword for The Last Quarter of the Moon (额尔古纳河右岸，迟子建著), click here.
(The Last Quarter of the Moon, by Chi Zijian, translated by Bruce Humes)
Reviewed by Kelly Falconer
A Chinese tale of timeless nomadic lives threatened by politics and change
The Last Quarter of the Moon [额尔古纳河右岸] is the first novel from award-winning Chinese novelist Chi Zijian to be translated into English. It is…
伦敦出版商 Harvill Secker 一月 17 日推出了东北作家迟子建的第一本译成英文的小说，《Last Quarter of the Moon》。为了《中华读书报》，慷慨先生找到我，进行了有关我翻译这本小说的初衷的采访：
徐穆实 [Bruce Humes]：首先要明白一个事实：书名一般由出版方来定，译者甚至原作家的想法只是建议罢了。要知道，外文版权是外国出版社拥有的，当然是他们说了算。
我的建议本来是直译：The Right Bank of the Argun。这书名不仅忠实原作，也方便引起西方读者的好奇心。因为用“右岸”表达河流的方位有点莫名其妙，西方读者习惯用东南西北来表达。就算西方读者 不知道这条河是几百年以来中俄边境的界线，单凭这种奇特的表达方式，也会引起他们的好奇心。
但英格兰的出版人被早些出版的《额尔古纳河右岸》意大利译文的书名 Ultimo quarto di luna 所吸引，就把它译成英文的The…
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Cankao Xiaoxi is a respected and…Continue