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The Creative Art of Translation

  • Deep Vellum Books (map)

Austin Worner is a Chinese-English literary translator and a Yale College graduate (Saybrook '08). He is coming to Dallas to do an author event at Deep Vellum Books to promote a Chinese novel he translated into English, The Invisible Valley. The author, Su Wei, is a Tiananmen Square exile who's been teaching Chinese literature at Yale for twenty years.

Learn more below. Hope you can attend!

Event info:

Description and author bios:

When Chinese novelist Su We nd his translator Austin Woerner first met in 2005, little did they know that their friendship would spark a ten-year-long experiment in creative co-translation that would take them from the classrooms of Yale to the mountains o outhern Chin nd back again. Joi ustin as he recount his literary odyssey, culminating in the publication o i nglish translation of Su’s nove h nvisible Valley in English this Apri, y Small Beer Pres. Austi ill reveal the story behin he story, a coming-of-age narrative set during the Cultural Revolution against a backdrop of rainforest landscapes, Taoist mysticism, and Cantonese folklore. In the proces e will share th oys and complexities o iterar ranslation an is adventures in Chinese literature both on and off the page.

In tropical southern China, in the midst of the Cultural Revolution, a teenage boy named Lu Beiping stumbles upon a band of woodcutters living deep in the mountains. Outcasts from mainstream society, the “driftfolk,” as they call themselves, practice a secret faith whose central tenets would be heresy in the world Lu Beiping comes from. As he is drawn deeper into their way of life—a realm of strange freedoms and restrictions, where the line between magic and reality is not always clear—Lu must struggle with what is natural and what is truly deviant, and learn to play a precarious balancing act between two taboo-ridden worlds. 

Like many Chinese writers of his generation, Su Wei spent his teenage years being “re-educated” through farm labor in the countryside, working for ten years on a rubber plantation in the mountains of tropical Hainan Island. He is known for his nonfiction essays as well as for his highly imaginative novels, which are seen as unique in their treatment of the Cultural Revolution. He fled China in 1989, and since 1997 he has taught Chinese language and literature at Yale University. he Invisible Valley is his first book to be translated into English.

A Chinese-English literary translator, Austin Woerner has translated two volumes of poetry, oubled Shadows: Selected Poetry of Ouyang Jianghe and hoenix, and edited the English edition of the innovative, bilingual Chinese literary journal hutzpah! Together with Ou Ning, he co-edited the short fiction anthology hutzpah! New Voices from China. He has a BA in East Asian Studies from Yale and an MFA in creative writing from the New School, and he is currently a lecturer at Duke Kunshan University.

Earlier Event: May 19
Breaking Shadows
Later Event: July 26
Class of '22 Dallas Area Send-off