The Weird Beasts of Translation: Yan Ge and Jeremy Tiang in Conversation

Both Yan Ge and Jeremy Tiang are language-hoarding writers. Sitting with host Emily Hyde, they chat about their work in Chinese and English, but you’ll also hear them speak Sichuanese, the dialect of Mandarin spoken in Yan Ge’s home Sichuan province, and English from the queen as it operates in Singapore. , where Jeremy grew up. Yan is an acclaimed writer in China, where she began publishing at the age of 17. She now lives in the UK. His novel The strange beasts of China was released in English in 2020, in Jeremy’s translation. Jeremy, in addition to having translated over 20 books from Chinese, is also a novelist and playwright currently based in New York.

This conversation ranges from cryptozoology to Confucius, from the market for world literature to the patriarchal structure of language. Yan reads the “Sacrificial Beasts” chapter of his novel, and Jeremy envies the brevity and compression of his Chinese before reading his own English translation. Throughout this warm conversation, Yan and Jeremy insist on particularity: on the specificity of language, even in translation, and on the specificity of identity, even in a globalized world. We learn more about Yan’s decision to write in English, and Jeremy’s chat chimes in with an answer to our big question on untranslatability! Tune in and don’t miss Yan’s English debut, Somewhere elsea collection of stories, to be published in 2023.

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See a transcript of the episode here.

Mentioned in this episode

Photographs of featured images provided by podcast participants

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