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November 14, 2010

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Aussie novels translated into Chinese

CHINESE translations of 10 award-winning Australian novels have been launched in Shanghai to promote Australian literature in China, where many people only known about "The Thorn Birds," if that.

The book series is the result of a translation project between the Australian Consulate General and Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade.

Professor Robert Dixon from the University of Sidney addressed the launch ceremony at the end of last month.

Dixon has published widely on Australian literature, post colonialism, Australian cultural studies, Australian art history, and early photography and cinema. In his speech, he addressed the role of translation in cultural exchanges, the history and outlook of Australian literature.

From 2005 to 2009, Dixon was a judge of the annual Miles Franklin Literary Award for the best Australian published novel or play portraying Australian life.

Q: What's the main idea behind the translation project?

A: The launch of 10 new translations confirms the growing internationalization of Australian literature. I hope this focus on Australian literature in Shanghai will inspire further study and translation, and the translators of these 10 novels will go on to champion of Australian literature in China.

Q: Why were these 10 books chosen?

A: Eight of the 10, such as Peter Carey's "Jack Maggs," are winners of Miles Franklin Award. The other two are the Aboriginal writer Archie Weller's "The Day of The Dogs" and Asian-Australian writer Brian Castro's "Shanghai Dancing." Through those works, we aim to present Australia's multiple cultures. Also, translation confirms the new diversity of Australian literature since 1988 and the legacy of exchanges between Chinese and Australian universities.

Q: Why is translation so important?

A: In the new international phase of Australian literature, the role of the translator is central. I'm currently conducting research on translators of Australian literature to build this knowledge. I ask, How does the reputation of an Australian book or writer spread from one language to another? Who decides what books will be translated - author, publisher or translator?

My study of Australian literature in translation suggests that key factors include the cross-cultural subjects of certain books. Alex Miller's "The Ancestor Game," translated by Li Yao, is a prime example. Other factors include the author's celebrity and the role of the translator in championing a particular work or author, and the effect of events, such as international cultural or sporting events and literary prizes.


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