a question and a vagrant writer

February 8th, 2009

Just how do you translate book titles? And the titles in question don’t strike me as being those of books that would have been translated into English…. Oh well, I guess there’s always google and baidu and all that lot and probably fruitless search results.

What prompts this question? The vagrant writer. 新京报/The Beijing News has what’s little more than a piece of fluff by by Han Meng about a chronically ill writer who’s spent the last 16 years roaming the countryside gathering materials for books. Two have been published, one’s about to be published, and now he’s off to collect material for more writing in the drought-stricken areas of provinces like Hebei, Henan, and Anhui.

And yes, based on the itty little bit of information in Han’s article, part of me envies him his lifestyle. Apart from the illness, naturally.



Vagrant” writer goes to drought zone villages to collect material


Suffering “soft cancer” travels around over 200 villages across the country for 16 years, already published two farmer’s readers


Yesterday, 48-year old “vagrant” writer Dai Zhongjin checked out of Dongzhimen Hospital and will now head to drought-stricken villages in Hebei, Henan and Anhui to collect material for his writing. Over the past 16 years, the sufferer of “soft cancer” (aplastic anaemia and haemolytic anaemia) Dai Zhongjin has visited over 200 villages in more than 10 provinces and municipalities. To date he has published two farmers’ readers.


Dai Zhongjin was born to a farming family in Xuyi County, Jiangsu. He told your correspondent that when he fell ill in 1992, he went through the formalities of early retirement due to health problems and began to travel around villages across the country collecting material to write about. Over the last 16 years he has visited over 200 villages in more than 10 provincs and municipalities, and to date has published two farmers’ readers of 200 thousand characters each,  New Countryside and New Farmers’ Reader and Essential Reading for Village Officials Standing in Elections.

[uh, yeah, that translating book titles thing. Help?]


Because he suffers from “soft cancer”, for several years Dai Zhongjin has been receiving treatment at Dongzhimen Hospital. He said that on January 23 this year, he went through the process of checking out of the hospital and quickly went to several villages in provinces like Hebei, Henan and Anhui to get to know the situation farmers face in cultivation. “Many farming families said that because of drought, this year’s harvest probably won’t be so good.”


On January 31, because of his illness, Dai Zhongjin returned to Beijing. Yesterday, when his treatment was finished, he once again checked out of Dongzhimen Hospital and took a bus out of Beijing to the drought-stricken area in Hebei.


Dai Zhongjin said that at present he was revising his third farmers’ reader, New Countryside and New Cadres’ Reader, which will soon be published. He will devote more space to advising cadres on methods of responding to natural disasters such as drought and floods.

Yet another rough-as-guts translation. Corrections and constructive advice are, as always, welcome.

Comments are closed.