Anonymous Manuscript Extracts

We’re no safe bet, but certainly we aren’t packing it in yet. Nope, we are gearing up to announce an ambitious schedule of publication to see us through to 2019. We are in the running for a number of grants, and failing that we will turn to highway robbery, poaching, money laundering, or dare we say it yet more crowd funding of one type or another.

To clear the dust of our activity, and to start on a fresh slate, we are running a short competition. We will be posting a number of extracts from a select bunch of novels, nothing major: lines, sentences, paragraphs… even the odd image. And anyone who correctly guesses the novel will receive a free copy of one of our previous publication (until we clear the stock that remains), if the winner has a copy of all three then they will win a copy of one of our 18-19 publications.

The  authors of the quotes, extracts, whatever you call them, they will be announced after some time, some guessing, some giving away of free stuff, and our chief editor will write a short essay on why we have chosen those specific quotes, and how they are important in the lead up to announcing the 2018-2019 publishing schedule. The announcement will be accompanied by a massive bonfire, twelve dozen very rare wines and spirits, a selection of cakes and tarts, a calypso band, forty-two Tuvan throat singers, and a herd of unusually carnivorous elephants trampling through at the end, over two continents.

So you’d be really stupid not to have a guess, and not to get involved. And to get behind a not so safe bet… Email us at with your innermost thoughts, and who you believe wrote the extract.

Image: The Ceremonial Law’: used by permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence

We Are Taking to China, part two.

Editor in Chief of Transportation Press, Rachel Edwards, visited China to discuss international publishing collaborations, this is the second installment of her account of the visit.

Day one, part two

Borges wrote (in Spanish) of Canton, that it is “where the river of the Water of Life spills into the sea.” Yet when he wrote he always had the English translation in mind, a beautiful and spacious mindset, yet limiting in its own ways. Borges’ Argentine Spanish, perfect in its very own voluptuous manner, English is so much more prosaic and broad. My first love was Argentinian, his lyrical, seductive Spanish had me at the first syllable. And his eyes, his eyes. But I digress.

Much of the APWT gathering in Guangzhou, formerly known as Canton, revolved around an axis of translation. We heard poets read in their own language, then read their English translation. Nha Thuyen, who runs Ajar Press in Hanoi Vietnam, a stand out.  We heard Chinese writers talk about their work, through translators and we heard Linda Jaivin discuss her circuitous and accidental route (though nothing is an accident, the Taoist in her pointed out) to translation. We heard Sholeh Wolpé transcend so much of the chilly everyday, with her translation of the adored Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad. She also read some work from Attar, Sufi mystic, teacher of Rumi, and whose The Conference of the Birds, translated by Sholeh is being released next year.  More on Sholeh in the next post, she is amazing, her poetry and translations, sublime. I am excited to be working with her in future.

Then there were the discussions around cultural translations, the ricochet and dancing much more than the mere technical aspects of poetry and language, and how this is where the true creativity of translation comes in, the true understanding of the power of language. Page Richard, Associate Professor in the School of English at the University of Hong Kong discussed this beautifully. She is also a writer and she works with the HKU Black Box Theatre. She discussed the translation of plays, not in language, but in location, in particular a contemporary play from the US that she had put on in HongKong, but it needed to be changed to suit the location. To stage it as written would have appeared trite in Hong Kong, the oversimplified East/West dynamic was skating precariously when it was performed in the States and could have simply been silly if staged as so in Hong Kong. When performed, the play retained its integrity, the story was told, and the effect it had on audience worked similarly though the geographical location of the performative piece was altered.

She spoke alongside Osamah Sami screenwriter, memoirist, stand up comedian and actor, whose award winning book, Good Muslim Boy was published by Hardie Grant in 2015.  This is a memoir that has been, in a rare literary volte-face, been adapted from a screenplay, where it would normally go the other way around.

Osamah was born in Iran to Iraqi parents, who had left Iran before his birth. His early years were spent growing up as the Iran Iraq war burned around him, and his family came to Australia when he was a teenager, but not before he had witnessed devastation and war at close range. He had replied to AWPT organizer Sanaz Foutohi, herself an Iranian Australian, when she asked how he was, “I am a ball,” – glorious response, but something at only works in Persian, and not at all as a literal translation. He explained that this meant he was full and strong, ready to bounce, but that simply does not work in English. The film of his book from his screenplay is being released next year, ‘Ali’s Wedding’. He explained that the first scene is him taking off in a tractor, the police in hot pursuit. It then cuts to a scene of the actor playing his father being tortured. This is a life translated to screen and I look forward to seeing it.

Rachel received a grant from Arts Tasmania’s ArtsBridge program to visit China.

We Are Taking to China, part one.

Editor in Chief of Transportation Press, Rachel Edwards, visited China to discuss international publishing collaborations, this is the first installment of her account of the visit.

At the other end of the table and at a rakish incline, a double bass leans against the wall, outside there are sounds of sweeping, industrial hammering and birds. The wind that arrives each year from icy Siberia arrived yesterday with a sodden, relentless rain and this morning I accidentally ordered intestine noodles for breakfast. I’m in Guangzhou for the 9th Asia Pacific Writers and Translators (APWT) summit/conference/confab. The sun’s coming up on the apartments opposite where I’m staying with young jazz musicians, a cat in a jumper and a big black dog, too playful for the space. The apartment is up the road from Sun Yat-Sen University where I’ve spent the last two days immersed in discussions, debate, challenges and interviews with other literary activists, writers, translators, editors, event producers from the Asia Pacific Region.

Day one, part one.

There is a bookshop in Guangzhou called Libreria Borges, Institute of Contemporary Art that houses a bookshop dedicated to the French writer Alain Robbe-Grillet and other post ’45 thinkers. The second story of the bookshop is home to Chinese video art (more on this arcane space later). Nicholas Jose, editor of the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature and author of novels and short stories opened the conference with a short introduction to APWT and their inception in a thatched hut, in a rice paddy in Bali in 2007. He talked about the flexibility and fluidity of the gatherings that have followed, and that is manifest in the difficulty of naming these gatherings – ‘conference’ is wrong, there is a beautifully collapsed structure, a sharing of information between audience and panelists, not a one way flow, ‘summit’ may work and is used on the program, ‘gathering’, too casual for an event that has had months of planning, organisation, and production. Jose talked about Libreria Borges and about MAK Halliday, a linguist who began his work in China in the 1940s and has a building at Sun Yat-Sen named in his honour. A recent essay of Halliday’s, is called ‘That ‘certain cut’; towards a characterology of Mandarin Chinese’. Jose asked just what would be the ‘cut’ of a literary community, what mixing, what verbal play could define a characterology of such a gathering. A ‘cut and a splice’ he concludes, may be an apt description.

He referred to a recent piece on Time Out Beijing, where experts choose the best Chinese fiction books of the last century. Alongside a number of Chinese writers including Nobel Laureate, Mo Yan and his novel, Red Sorghum, sit JG Ballard for Empire of the Sun, The Good Earth, by Pearl Buck (another Nobel Laureate). This a beautifully inclusive interpretation of ‘Chinese’ novel, anyone is able to write one. The only thing that these books have in common, apart from their setting, is that they are readily available in English translation. Which begs the question, what books were left out of this list?

He talks about the increasing recognition of both Asian writers in the West, and their translators, noting Madeline Thien’s shortlisting for the Booker, and the presence of Han Kang’s translator Deborah Smith alongside her when she was awarded the Man Booker International for her grueling novel The Vegetarian and he reminds us that we must engage as advocates. He has set a perfect, international, warm and distinct tone for us to continue conversations, some of which began for me at APWT summit in Bangkok in 2013, including one with Kulpreet Yadav, editor of Open Road Review, of which I now am the non fiction editor.

The confabulation has begun, this is only the beginning. Where to next?

Rachel received a grant from Arts Tasmania’s ArtsBridge program to visit China.


Nuclear Reactor by Sean Preston

UK Editor, Sean Preston considers the left and the right, the contusions and confusions, in the lead up to the Brexit referendum

Nuclear Reactor by Sean Preston
The importance of our upcoming referendum in the UK is one of significance if not importance. Just how important is debatable, like everything else to do with all this. And debate is what people have done. Debate that has been regularly boring and occasionally infuriating. On the eve of the UK saying Yes or No to continuing to be a part of the European Union, I’m left to consider, as I have many times, the reaction to these discussions.

Something awful happened this week. An act of right-wing terrorism (by definition) in the West Yorkshire, Northern England followed an act of Islamic terrorism (by definition) and an act cut through with homophobia, in Orlando, Florida. What I found to be so sad about these acts is what linked them other than the loss of life: they were avoidable. With care, attention, and respect, the perpetrators might have been helped, a tragedy averted. A lack of compassion is what promoted these crimes. The Right, of course, for the most part, has chosen to focus on Islam in regard to terrorism perpetrated by Muslims, and have done in the UK for some time now. Yet the likes of The Daily Mail chooses to view the recent act of right-wing terrorism as the act of a lone wolf. The Daily Mail is institutionally disgusting. I expect nothing less. Few do. They’re  predictably one-sided.

What I didn’t expect was the same style of careless and selfish rhetoric to have emanated from the Left in the way that it has. The greater part of my left-wing bubble swamped Social Media to tell Leave campaigners that they had blood on their hands. That this was an act of right-wing terrorism and a sign of things to come. They blamed the rhetoric of the right-wing Leave campaign. They said that the campaign resulted in the death of one of our MPs. The hyperbole was worryingly similar to that of the xenophobes on the right. Yes, this was the same insular knee-jerkism that followers of The Daily Mail subscribe to. This is the same as blaming the Quran for terrorism. How has the Left of our country become like that? How has it become so unreasonable? The worst kind of reactionary. The thing that we on the Left should know to be so dangerous. Perhaps they’ll say they were being ironic. Fine, that makes perfect sense to me. Maybe some of them were. Though I doubt many of those responsible for these comments are the type to wield irony so soon after such a tragedy such as this. It doesn’t seem to follow form if their usual baaing outrage is anything to go by. These are the same people that rightly promote openness and understanding in regard to mental health. Over the last couple of years I’ve seen so many positive indications that we’re finally going to take mental health seriously. And now, what? We immediately forget all that, because it’s a useful tool in sickeling “Nazi” to the backs of Leavers? We too readily forget that victims make perpetrators when forgetting as much fits our political or social agenda. Bizarre and saddening. The Left is better than that.

It’s hard to know exactly how to react. I get that. But I’ve seen a lot of reactions that turned my stomach over the last week. Vote Leave and you’re aligning yourselves with racists. Ha! We do that when we join a queue at Tesco. And what, are there not people voting Remain for reasons that you find uncomfortable? I’m not alone in feeling frustrated and nauseated in general by this referendum. I considered a “Lexit” (Left Exit: voting Leave owing to left-wing ideology – also the lamest portmanteau our country has ever seen), but it’s a pointless exercise. I want to believe that a Jeremy Corbyn government can happen but I can’t see beyond our influential right-wing media. Besides, there’s a lesser evil here, and it’s the European Union. But my vote makes a difference to people, marginally. And so I’m forced to Remain because Schindler. Because the realistic alternative is shameful. Because I’m more concerned by the What If than the What Is. Which, when you think about it, is pretty depressing. But I cannot abide by those voting Remain that seek to disparage those considering a Lexit vote. We can go anywhere in Europe, they say, how can we give up on that? Well, here’s why: You can go and work anywhere in Europe, so can I. But there are two million children living in poverty in this country who do not have that option. Is that a direct result of the European Union? Perhaps not, but has the European Union’s neoliberal agenda helped that situation? Ask Greece.

Either way, in or out, I hope the Left can react well tomorrow. I hope they can show some kind of compassion. Otherwise they’ve lost more than Europeanism.