Watch the book trailer for Mo Yan's latest book, Sandalwood Death, and read the section introduction by translator Howard Goldblatt.
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In this CLT exclusive, modern Chinese literature's greatest translator, Howard Goldblatt, admits unprecedented access to interviewer Ge Haowen, who happens to be his Chinese alter-ego. The ensuing discussion illuminates the many paths Goldblatt has taken toward a life lived "his way," a mi manera. An unmistakably candid self-portrait of one of the most important figures in East-West literature, this imagined conversation touches on a number of controversial moments in Goldblatt's career and is sure to stir further discussion about the legacy of the voice and face of contemporary Chinese literature in the English language.
The following interview took place this spring over several days in Howard Goldblatt's home. Normally, an interview of this length could be completed in one session, with perhaps a bit of follow-up. But Professor Goldblatt was determined to have music playing in the background, and from time to time he would stop to turn up a piece he was particularly fond of. On one occasion, when the "Double Bach" came on, he stopped and began humming along, à la Glenn Gould, straining to handle both parts. On another occasion, when we went on later than usual, he opened a bottle 2007 Dashe Dry Creek Zinfandel and went "off the record." Somewhere people's ears were burning. He was a gracious host and remarkably spry and alert for a man of his advanced years. One of his blogosphere fans recently commented: "Goldblatt seems to have jumped the shark." I saw no indication of that.—Ge Haowen