NüVoices Podcast #67: Translating Jin Yong’s Legends of the Condor Heroes with Gigi Chang and Shelly Bryant, Part 2

The second half of Gigi Chang and Shelly Bryant‘s discussion about translating Jin Yong’s legendary wuxia series Legends of the Condor Heroes  from Chinese to English is here! Guest host and NüVoices member Cathy Tai moderates the conversation.

First, Cathy brings listeners up to speed on the Condor Heroes and Jin Yong’s significance to the contemporary wuxia genre and Chinese pop culture.

From there, Gigi and Shelly discuss the challenges of translating a text accurately while taking into account readers’ cultural assumptions and social norms, the male gaze in wuxia, and how non-Han Chinese characters are depicted in the Condor Heroes book series.  If you missed part 1, please give it a listen.

About the Condor Heroes series (credit: MacMillan)

A fantastical generational saga and kung fu epic from Hong Kong writer Jin Yong, begins with A Hero Born, the classic novel of its time, stretching from the Song Empire (China 1200 AD) to the appearance of a warlord whose name will endure for eternity: Genghis Khan. Filled with an extraordinary cast of characters, this epic fantasy series of magic and wonder, love and passion, treachery and war, betrayal and brotherhood is not to be missed.

“Widely known by his pen name, Jin Yong, his work, in the Chinese-speaking world, has a cultural currency roughly equal to that of ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Star Wars’ combined.” – The New Yorker

Self-care suggestions:

Gigi: Watching films and TV shows, tai chi and wudang quan 武當拳 (“You sweat like no tomorrow!”) and learning kundi opera flute.

Shelly: Wood carving, watching TV re-runs, and listening to audiobooks.

About Gigi Chang:

Gigi Chang translates from Chinese into English. Her fiction translations include Jin Yong’s martial arts series Legends of the Condor Heroes – Volume II: A Bond Undone; Volume III: A Snake Lies Waiting, co-translated with Anna Holmwood; and Volume IV: A Heart Divided, co-translated with Shelly Bryant. Her theatre translations include classical Chinese dramas for the Royal Shakespeare Company and contemporary Chinese plays for the Royal Court Theatre, Hong Kong Arts Festival and Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre. She also co-hosts a regular programme on plays and playwrights for the Chinese-language podcast Culture Potato.

About Shelly Bryant:

Shelly Bryant divides her year between Shanghai and Singapore, working as a poet, writer, and translator. She is the author of twelve volumes of poetry (Alban Lake and Math Paper Press), a pair of travel guides for the cities of Suzhou and Shanghai (Urbanatomy), a book on classical Chinese gardens (Hong Kong University Press), and a short story collection (Epigram Books). She has translated work from the Chinese for Penguin Books, Amazon Crossing, Epigram Publishing, the National Library Board in Singapore, Giramondo Books, HSRC, Rinchen Books, and Maclehose Press and edited poetry anthologies for Alban Lake and Celestial Books. Shelly’s poetry has appeared in journals, magazines, and websites around the world, as well as in several art exhibitions. Her translation of Sheng Keyi’s Northern Girls was long-listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2012, and her translation of You Jin’s In Time, Out of Place was shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize in 2016. Shelly received a Distinguished Alumna Award from Oklahoma Christian University of Science and Arts in 2017. Her company, Tender Leaves Translation (Singapore), was shortlisted for The Literary Translation Initiative Award by the London Book Fair in 2021.  You can visit Shelly’s website at shellybryant.com