I was addicted to New Yorker for months. Today I opened the new issue for 26th August, one name in the content stopped me, Yu Hua. Yu Hua gained his fame by To Live, in my undergraduate days, I really liked it.
This time on New Yorker it is a short story called Victory. I wonder why they chose this story. I never heard of it before, so I started without any clue about the plot. I was hoping something valuable or at least worth my time in it.
It was beautifully translated, I have to say. The English in the short story is smooth, relaxing and impeccable. Well, of course, that’s New Yorker! Besides those Chinese names, one couldn’t tell it is about Chinese couples’ s marriage and love affairs. It could be anybody who lives in China. Only in this story, Yu Hua tries to bring the inner mental world of Chinese married people up in the air, under readers’ nose, and exposes them with a dramatic scene — the wife found “the secret closet” of her husband!
However, the plot is such a cliché. This is what happened to Chinese readers and foreign readers. Yu Hua is writing in Chinese, and some of his stories are way too plain for his readers. Perhaps, that could represent the vast majority in China, but there are better short stories.
Honestly, I like the language and the rhythm of the English Translation, but with what I learned from Yiddish literature class, I have to go back to the original text.
First, the title was “Woman’s Victory”. Since I myself am doing translation from English to Chinese for novels and memoirs, I would like to get the original idea of taking “woman” out of the picture in the title. Is it some cultural thing? The whole Chinese story is predictable, again plain. I was prepared to read a better written one, because they always say that reading the original text is much better than reading the translation. Translation, as an act of recreating, it is much more customized to the local culture. So to some extent, it shouldn’t be that hard. But this is not the case for now. The original text is not as readable as the translation. If I don’t see the name of the author, I might think this is from a high school student. Nothing special.
I don’t know why New Yorker chose this short story. But it is among average writing capability in China. The tune of this story is close to New Yorker, but it could be better, right?
My sina blog: http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_d18a68050101pu20.html