An Arabic edition of the magazine Chinese Literature has been launched during the Beijing International Book Fair and will be distributed, for free starting October as a periodical magazine issued every three months in partnership with the Egyptian cultural newspaper Al-Kahera.
The magazine, which is already published in 10 languages and comprises fiction, poetry and art, will be published under the name Beacons of the Silk Road, and will introduce contemporary Chinese literature to Arabic readers.
The news of the Arabic edition comes amid growing Chinese interest in the Arab world, on a political and cultural levels. Beit El-Hekma, a publishing house specialised in Chinese books, will be responsible for the content, while Al-Kahera will be responsible for printing and distribution.
"The Chinese side showed interest in publishing the magazine in Arabic, and were looking for a partner, and they chose Al-Kahera, to be their partner in Cairo, and we are glad to be part of this prestigious publication," Sayed Mahmoud, chief editor of Al-Kahera told Ahram Online. "We have a chance through this magazine to get to know Chinese contemporary literature, which is almost unknown the Arab readers. This contemporary literature will allow us to look closely at the transformations of the Chinese experience."
Chinese literature is gaining attention in the Arab world and in Egypt especially after Mo Yan, a Chinese author, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2012.
"The magazine gives an opening to both readers and writers to discover new horizons. We have the chance to get to know a culture that has been alien to us for a long time now. Chinese literature has gained huge attention after Gao Xingjian won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2000, and Mo Yan in 2012. Two Chinese novelists winning the Nobel Prize in less than 20 years is a huge achievement that should be looked at," Mahmoud said.
The chief editor of the magazine is Chinese critic Che Chan John. The executive editor of the Chinese edition is Che Tse Chen. Ahmed Said, founder of Beit El-Hekma, will executive editor of the Arabic Edition and will lead a team of translators, editors, critics and Chinese literature professors.
The announcement of the launch of the Arabic edition took place during the fifth day of Beijing International Book Fair, which kicked off 24 August and ran through 28 August. A ceremony was held at the representative office of the Arab League in Beijing to announce the launch of the Arabic edition.
The first issue will include nine short stories written by Chinese contemporary authors, translated into Arabic for the first time, each story preceded by an introduction to the author and translator. The opening issue will be devoted to Chinese Arabic literature.
One of the advantages that the magazine allows is that it translates Chinese literature directly from Chinese, not through English or French, as it was in the past.
"The previous translations of Chinese literature were always through another language, but what we provide here is direct translation from Chinese. This doesn't only enhance our understanding of the text and the quality of the translation, it also opens us to a new generation of young Egyptian translators who were completely unknown to us," Mahmoud adds.
According to Mahmoud, the Chinese side is interested in translating Arabic literature into Chinese, but selections are dependent on the market and there are no concrete plans to change that yet.
"They know Mahmoud Darwish, Adonis and Ibrahim Abdel-Meguied, but there is a whole other world of literature that they don't know about and I hope with time and collaboration we will get to translate more Arabic literature into Chinese," Mahmoud explained.