FAH-DENG talk: ‘Translating Chinese Contemporary Literature’ by Ms. Nicky Harman


Ms. Nicky Harman


12 Mar 2018







In translating Chinese fiction we have to weigh up two considerations that sometimes appear contradictory: putting the meaning and the content of the original into English, and creating an equivalent effect on the reader of the translation. To get the right meaning and the right effect (that is, the effect the author intended), the translator sometimes has to do some quite creative things. In this talk, I will look at the conflicting demands that face the literary translator working from a language (and culture) as different from my native language as Chinese. I will give examples of cultural and linguistic challenges and discuss a number of rewarding approaches to tackling them.



Nicky Harman lives in the UK and translates full-time from Chinese. She focusses on fiction, literary non-fiction, and occasionally poetry, by authors such as Chen Xiwo, Han Dong, Hong Ying, Dorothy Tse, Xinran, Xu Xiaobin, Yan Ge, Yan Geling and Zhang Ling. In 2015, she won a Mao Tai Cup People’s Literature Chinese-English translation prize (link here: in Chinese), and in 2014, she won first prize in the 2013 China International Translation Contest, Chinese-to-English section.

She taught on the MSc in Translation at Imperial College 2001- 2011 and gives regular talks and workshops on translation. Along with Eric Abrahamsen, Dave Haysom and Helen Wang, she runs the READ PAPER REPUBLIC project, posting and promoting free-to-view short stories translated from Chinese. She organizes translation-focused events, mentors new translators and judges translation competitions. She was co-Chair of the Translators Association (Society of Authors, UK) from 2014 to 2017. She has contributed to literary magazines such as AsianCha, Chutzpah, and Words Without Borders, and tweets, with Helen Wang, as China Fiction Book Club @cfbcuk.


All are welcome




FAH - Department of English
Tel: 88224063
Email: fah.english@um.edu.mo