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by Ouyang Yu, zero copies left now, all gone
Read the book or regret not reading it.
Alex Miller, the great Australian novelist, says:
How to describe LOOSE to you? I’ve called it the great Australian anti-novel, but it doesn’t seek to respect any of the conventional forms and is, on the face of it, anti-everything, anti-documentary, anti-memoir, anti-cultural history – there is very little of fiction in it. Except for poetry (where its approach is conventional) the disciplines of the various literary forms are rejected repeatedly and with varying degrees of vehemence and ridicule.
The Angry Wu Zili. So you believe their crap that this is ‘the angry Chinese poet’? Well, then, believe this book by reading it.
Published in a limited edition of 200 copies, signed and numbered, this one is titled, Report on Australia, a tough book for the tough-minded.
Translations, Randomly Rendered, a book of translations in Chinese and English of diverse writings in either language. If you don’t read it, it’s a big loss. If you do, it’s an even bigger loss because you are translated.
Scholarly and scatological, this cornucopia of fun and wisdom is a breathtaking picture of speech, thought and images from the world’s richest and oldest culture. On the Smell of an Oily Rag gives an insight like no other into how English-language and Chinese-language cultures collide, contrast and illuminate each other. It’s about what is lost in translation and what can be gained by it. ‘Very big, China.’ – Noel Coward ‘This is a book every structuralist should have on their shelves and read every day.’ – Bruce Elder, Sydney Morning Herald
This is my handwritten translation of Mrs Craddock, a novel by Somerset Maugham, dating back to 1982 when I was a university student in Wuhan. It’s now offered for sale as a whole. Contact me privately if interested.
This is my computer I worked on in the late 1990s, a PowerPC, Macintosh Performa 5200CD, in which I translated The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead, I wrote my Moon over Melbourne and Other Poems, and Songs of the Last Chinese Poet, and I also wrote a massive number of poems in Chinese and English. I now offer this as a collector’s item for whoever interested.
Ouyang Yu came to Australia in mid-April 1991 and has since published 146 books of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, literary translation and criticism in English and Chinese languages, including his award-winning novels, The Eastern Slope Chronicle (2002) and The English Class (2010), his collections of poetry, Songs of the Last Chinese Poet (1997), and Terminally Poetic (2020), which won the Judith Wright Calanthe Award for a Poetry Book in the 2021 Queensland Literary Awards, his book website: www.huangzhouren.com and his bilingual blog: youyang2.blogspot.com
He was shortlisted for the Writer’s Prize in the 2021 Melbourne Prize for Literature and won the Fellowship from the Australia Council in late 2021 for writing a documentary novel. And his sixth novel, All the Rivers Ran South, is coming out in mid-2023 with Puncher & Wattmann and his first collection of short stories in English, The White Cockatoo Flowers, forthcoming in 2024 with Transit Lounge Publishing.
Yesterday as I started reading Brian Castro’s Drift, it crossed my mind that here was an author who should be in serious contention for the Nobel Prize in Literature. I have not the faintest idea how authors get nominated, but based on the works of the Nobel Prize winning authors that I’ve read, I think that there are three authors writing in Australia today whose work the Nobel Prize Committee should know about. They are Castro, Gerald Murnane and Ouyang Yu.
In form and style his poems are typically full of disruptive, unexpected lines, deploying enjambment, malapropism, skilful grammar (as well as wilful disregard for grammar) in service of profundity, humour, and intellectual interrogation. Moments emerge from Yu’s work as a translator and as a language teacher, and his fascinations capture not only an other’s perception of his second language and culture, but also a revision of his first language, and glimpses into parallels (as well as enormous divergences) between the two. There’s something enormously heartening about reading such a living, adventurous book published in English in Australia that can nonchalantly presume the relevance of a treatise on individual Chinese words or characters, or their relationship with English.
This is an excerpt from Alex Miller’s launch speech for the novel, Loose, a Wild History:
While I was reading LOOSE there were times when it reminded me of the American writer Theodore Dreiser’s very loose history of himself, DAWN. Moments when LOOSE had that same eager tone of searching, searching, searching, to connect the inner life to the realities of the outer life, as if membranes of purpose and meaning might exist for both in the culture which, if he rejected sufficient of the commonplace, might eventually make their appearance to him. But no Australian book came to my mind. LOOSE talks tough. It is not written in the diplomatic language of Australia/China cultural friendship societies. LOOSE is the underbelly, the private interior voice of paranoia and mistrust, ambivalence and misunderstanding, the voice of just how difficult it really is to speak meaningfully of Australia/China cultural exchange at the level of the life of one individual whose history stands, painfully and problematically, across both cultures. “I am still young,” the author laments on page169, “ but absolutely useless in this society that has trashed me through conspiracy.” Strong words. LOOSE asks how is it possible to belong in both cultures. In the process of doing this it challenges our most dearly held beliefs and hopes of cultural influence and exchange with China. LOOSE questions the very basis of Australia’s place in Asia. It derides the hypocrisy of diplomatic speak, and it does it often with brilliant humor and even more often with vicious satire. LOOSE does something else that is just as important as this, and perhaps even more challenging for Australian writers (and I am one of that peculiar breed). I’ll get to this other thing in a minute.
Sally Fitzpatrick on Ouyang’s THE ENGLISH CLASS:
The effervescent energy of this novel, and the charm of its innocent protagonist, compel interest throughout the entire four hundred pages. Reminiscent of the picaresque hero Don Quixote, the hapless truck-driver, Jing, tilts at the windmill of the English language as he bounds around in the Unique, his rattling, truck-without- breaks. More aptly perhaps, Jing resembles Sun Wu Kong, the famous Monkey King, hero of the Chinese classic, Journey to the West, who lampoons the phantasmagorical world of Chinese Buddhist and Taoist belief.
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