Sunday, November 04, 2007

More Translated Books

As I have mentioned previously, I have found an interesting variety of foreign literature translated into Chinese. Many of the books have been surprising (such as Lolita, Catcher in the Rye, and On the Road).

The other night, I decided to buy Jia a gift of a few books and search for a new Chinese book for myself. The first book I noticed was Jack Kerouac's Desolation Angels--a book I once picked up in English and thought it incoherent. I asked Jia to read it in Chinese, thinking it might make more sense--her response was, "Kan bu dong," "I don't understand." I guess they did a good job translating.

The next two books were much more surprising than the others I've seen. Hanif Kureishi's Buddha of Suburbia--a wonderfully comic novel that has a bit more decadence than you'd expect for anything in China. I seem to recall a bit of sex, drugs, and even divorce (things that don't go along with a "harmonious society"). The second book we got was the Ray Bradbury classic, Fahrenheit 451. I'm absolutely shocked to find a book about the dangers of government censorship in China. As J. said, "Maybe it's a ploy: Not censoring a book on censorship to make it seem there's no censorship." Anyway, we bought the books so Jia can read them and then discuss them with me to see if they've been censored.

Other news: In Skekou, due to the construction of the new subway line, a few businesses have had to close down because of a lack of customers (these include Subway and Pizza Hut, as well as some smaller restaurants and bars). The construction involved closing a road and building a wall in front of about 10 stores. According to Jia, the business owners have put up a sign criticizing the government because they were not part of the decision to put a subway stop across the street from Sea World. They're mostly unhappy because they are not being compensated for lost business. The wall blocking access to the businesses has been up for about a month.

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