Tue, Jul 19, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Autobiography set for new audience

BRIDGING CULTURES:The book chronicles the author’s life in China during the Sino-Japanese War and has sold more than 75,000 copies in Taiwan since it was released

Staff Writer, with CNA

The Japanese version of prominent Taiwanese writer Chi Pang-yuan’s (齊邦媛) autobiography was launched yesterday, offering Japanese readers a unique window on history and bringing local literature to a broader international audience.

The 600-page book, titled Ju Liu River (巨流河), narrates Chi’s life in chronological order — detailing her tribulations in China during the second Sino-Japanese War from 1937 to 1945 and her life after she moved to Taiwan in 1947.

The book was first released in Chinese in July 2009 to critical acclaim, but has yet to be translated into English.

At the launch of the book’s two-volume Japanese version in Taipei, the 87-year-old Chi said she hoped it would promote greater understanding between people in China and Japan and bring continued peace.

“Human beings endure suffering through literature, and in literature we gain peace and redemption,” she said at the event.

Chi said she had mixed feelings about the book being translated into Japanese because “my country, my family and my own fate are deeply intertwined with the history of Sino-Japanese relations over the past 100 years.”

One of the book’s two translators, Sadako Ikegami, a professor at Atomi University in Saitama Prefecture in Japan, said she felt honored to be able to take part in the project.

She said the book’s complicated historical and geographical backdrop, along with the keen observations of its narrator, made the translation difficult, but ultimately rewarding.

“I am sure Japanese readers will have a more profound understanding of history and the Sino-Japanese War after they read the book,” said Ikegami, who went on to describe Chi as a writer with great determination.

Chi is best known for her leading role in introducing Taiwanese authors to the Western world by translating their works. She was awarded the country’s highest cultural honor, the Presidential Culture Award, two years ago.

Her autobiography has done well since being released in July 2009. More than 75,000 copies have been sold in Taiwan and another 100,000 in China, said Commonwealth Publishing Group, the book’s publisher.

It was also selected as one of 20 books to be translated into foreign languages as part of a national project now managed by the National Museum of Taiwan Literature.

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