The 24th Beijing International Book Fair focuses on Belt and Road titles and Chinese ethnic minority literature

By Huang Tingting Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/27 16:58:39

 Sunandan Roy Chowdhury (left) and Lu Dongming at Thursday's signing ceremony Photo: Courtesy of Zhejiang University Press

Visitors look through books at the Cambridge University Press booth at the 24th BIBF on Thursday. Photo: Huang Tingting/GT 

Attended by more than 2,500 publishers from 89 countries and regions over the past five days, the 24th Beijing International Book Fair (BIBF) has become one of China's most talked about topics on social media platforms.

One of the publishing industry in China's largest events, the BIBF came to an end on Sunday after a week of numerous book salons, publisher forums and signing ceremonies between Chinese and overseas publishers.

Belt and Road publishing

China's Belt and Road (B&R) initiative was front and centered this year as many domestic publishers made room on their display shelves for B&R publications.

From academic works on Silk Road cultures and history to pamphlets featuring basic Q&A introductions to the initiative, the B&R book series launched by Zhejiang University Press (ZJUP) on Thursday was a typical example. Boasting 15 language editions, the series delves into the cultural, economic and legal backgrounds of B&R countries.

Lu Dongming, head of ZJUP, told the Global Times that publication of the series was a natural result of B&R operations.

"We have encountered challenges under the Belt and Road initiative. To solve these challenges, we have had to carry out studies. Now we are ready to publish what we have found," said Lu.

"B&R publications act as a bridge between theory and practice," he said.

Additionally, ZJUP has signed deals with Indian publishing house Sampark to publish Bengali and Indian English editions of Land of Tea, a book in the B&R series that features selected essays on tea culture from award-winning Chinese author Wang Xufeng. For Sampark, this is the first time it has worked with a Chinese publisher.

"I think the culture of tea is something that binds China and India," Sunandan Roy Chowdhury, head of Sampark, told the Global Times after the signing ceremony when asked why he chose Land of Tea as Sampark's first Chinese project.

"China has developed a particular kind of tea culture while India also has a long history of growing tea," he said.

Chowdhury noted that the past few decades have seen limited cooperation between Indian and Chinese publishers mainly due to a lack of translators. "That's something we should work on," he said.

Even though relations between the two countries have been tense recently due to the Doklam standoff, Chowdhury is optimistic about future cooperation.

"I am not an expert on the Belt and Road initiative, but I think what can happen is that some interesting Chinese cultural or historical things can get widely disseminated in India, which will raise the level of awareness about China in India. That's very important," Chowdhury explained.

Ethnic minority literature

Another BIBF focus on Thursday was a forum held by institutions including the China Translation & Publishing House (CTPH) and the Chinese Culture Translation and Studies Support Network (CCTSS) on the export of literature works written by Chinese ethnic minority writers.

At the International Promotion Program of Chinese Ethnic Writers & International Forum on Translation and Publication of Chinese Ethnic Literature, CTPH unveiled an overseas publishing project featuring multi-language editions of works from big name contemporary Chinese ethnic minority writers such as Tibetan writers A Lai and Tenzin, as well as Yi author Jidi Majia, who was recently awarded the "Silver Willow" Lifetime Achievement Award at the Cambridge Xu Zhimo Poetry and Art in late July.

According to CTPH, the project, initiated by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television and the China Writers Association, will publish five books annually starting from 2013. So far, more than 70 books have been selected for overseas publication.

Thursday's event also featured the launch of A Lai's epic novel Red Poppies in Hindi and Sinhalese and the Arabic and Hungarian editions of Tenzin's Little Novice.

Happy to see his books translated into languages besides the more mainstream English, Spanish and French, A Lai said this move hints at a broader global market for Chinese literature works.

Overseas publishers and experts present at Thursday's event also weighed in, saying they believe stories written by Chinese ethnic minority authors are sure to be of interest to readers in their home countries.

Dinesh Kulatunga, head of the Sri Lankan publisher that published the Sinhalese edition of A Lai's Red Poppies, said at the forum that Chinese ethnic minority literature works show unique flavors thanks to authors' efforts to show the culture of their ethnic groups.

Newspaper headline: Page-turner

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