Sichuan-born novelist Yan Ge, famous for her stories of rural China written in her hometown dialect, is set to publish her first novel and short story collection in English.
According to The bookstore, literary publishers Faber and Scribner acquired the exclusive UK and Commonwealth rights and North American rights, respectively, to Yan’s novel Destination hotel and collection of news Elsewhere, both of which will be its first in English.
Yan retweeted the aforementioned press article on his personal Twitter account. “To debut again!” she wrote: “Thanks to my second language which rejuvenated my literary voice and allowed me to begin another journey as a new writer five years ago, at the age of 31.”
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Over the weekend, Chinese-American novelist Er Xiang reposted on her official WeChat account a personal essay written by Yan in 2018. In the essay, Yan recalls her literary journey as an English-speaking writer, which started in a workshop with American writer Phillip Lopate. when she was a visiting scholar at Duke University.
She wrote, “Compared to writing in Chinese, writing in English was absolutely not exciting; it was lukewarm… a process that could not please anyone. I promised myself that no matter what I did, I would never write in English.
However, her attitude began to change as she attended more and more literary festivals in Ireland, where she was residing with her husband. As his works have received international recognition, he has frequently been asked to read excerpts from his works translated into English.
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The readings seemed far removed from his stories. “I felt compelled to tell my audience,” she wrote, “that the English was coming from my translator, not from me”.
Eventually, she broke her promise and wrote her first work in English in 2017. After struggling to write a solicited submission for an Irish literary journal, she decided to try writing it in English. The result was Yan’s excellent essay, The suicide of the panda.
She described the writing process in English as “exciting, as if a young writer who was just starting to write stories was emerging from within”.
His stories in English have been published in numerous literary magazines, including The New York Times, The Irish Times, and TLS.
Reflecting on the process of writing these stories, Yan noted, “The most important thing I realized is that writing in English will not require me to say goodbye to my native language.
“I have become a new writer in the English-speaking world, but I’m still the same person, writing about my hometown, in my native Szechuan dialect,” she added.
Yan’s short story collection Elsewhere is expected to be released in 2023.
Cover image via Unsplash