“They Have Guns, and I, a Pen”: Highly Valuable New Source on the Tibetan Rebellion

This 297-page first-person account of the Tibetan uprising of spring 2008 is being published, like, today, in Germany:

via Lungta Verlag

via Lungta Verlag

Tsering Woeser is a Tibetan writer and blogger.  Her book is being published by Lungta Verlag, which is the publishing house for the German Tibet Initiative.  The direct translation of the title into Chinese is “你有枪,我有笔,” but in fact the original title was 《鼠年雪狮吼》 which had been published in Taiwan this past March.

or, as JustRecently renders it, and follows with analysis:

“You have the Guns, I have a Pen”. It’s a keyboard, in fact. She started documenting the Tibetan riots of March 2008 as a blog. In Taiwan, this book was published by Fair Morning Publishing in March this year, under the Chinese title “Year of the Rat, Snow Lion’s Roar” (鼠年雪狮吼), or “The Snow-Lion Roaring in the Year of the Mouse”.

I like the new title for a couple of reasons: 1) Germans don’t know much about the Year of the Mouse and 2) it reflects that Germanic penchant (or hunger) for individual moral courage, the praise for the pacifist which the United States lauds in the Germans but rarely itself hears, and 3) guns and pens should more frequently be juxtaposed in book and article titles.

Aha!  I recall a conference paper I once gave!  For all you citation-hungry academics, here it is: Adam Cathcart, “I Will Be the First to Lay Down My Pen for a Gun: Chinese Schoolchildren and the War with Japan,” presented at Conference on Children and War, Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, Rutgers University, April 9, 2005.  The phrase derives from a Xinhua dispatch, allegedly a quote from a female student who is burning with anger over the American invasion of North Korea.

While East Germans were in full solidarity with the DPRK and the PRC (especially wide-eyed at Mao, as my archival research in Berlilin suggests), I don’t think that the Lungta Verlag had a Xinhua reprise in mind.  No!  There is something pure about this title, and it is good.

Here without further ado is the press release followed by my translation:

Als am 10. März 2008 in Lhasa Unruhen ausbrechen, beginnt die tibetische Schriftstellerin Tsering Woeser – zunächst als Blog – die täglichen Proteste, ihre Ausdehnung über ganz Tibet und die Reaktionen der chinesischen Sicherheitskräfte zu dokumentieren.

Zu einer Zeit, als ausländische Beobachter des Landes verwiesen werden und China nur die eigene Propaganda über die Zustände in Tibet an die Öffentlichkeit lässt, wird Woesers Blog für ihre Landsleute in Tibet, China und im Exil zu einer Nachrichtenquelle von unermesslichem Wert. Heute sind ihre Berichte ein aufrüttelndes Zeugnis der anhaltenden Unterdrückung in Tibet.

When the Lhasa Unrest broke out on 10 March 2008, the Tibetan writer [actually writeress, since she has a gender!] next began a blog to document the daily protests, their circumference over all Tibet and the reaction of the Chinese security forces.

At the time, when foreign reporters were forbidden from the land and only [regime] propaganda about the uprising was allowed to be spread, Woeser’s blog was a news source of vast worth for her compatriots in Tibet, China, and in exile.  Today her reports are a jarring certification of the ongoing oppression in Tibet.

I happen to believe that German perceptions of Tibet are rather important as far as topics go, and anticipate providing little updates from time to time in this space on, for instance, Der Spiegel features on His Holiness.

For more information about Tsering Woeser, see the following:

•JustRecently’s essay today on Woeser and the Frankfurt Book Fair, and his prodigious fund of essays re: Woeser prior to today;

•the New York Times’ wonderfully poetic feature in April 2009 which I willfully ignored;

•an interview with Woeser in Tibetan translated into English by a Tibetan (via India/Europe/U.S.);

•an activist website profile of Woeser (favorite line: “Please note that there are no fax numbers for the Chinese authorities”);

•an English translation of the introduction of the Taiwan/Chinese version of Tsering’s account of 2008 disturbance;

•Woeser’s blog from March 10-25, 2008, in both English and Chinese via The Epoch Times;

•a short profile of Woeser by PEN American writers;

•her Wikipedia entry is woefully incomplete, but it has one redeeming quality: this magnificent citation: 2008 “Mémoire interdite. Témoignages sur la Révolution culturelle au Tibet” ([or, in my translation of title,] Forbidden Memory: Testimonies of the Cultural Revolution in Tibet), éd. Bleu de Chine, trad. Li Zhang & Bernard Bourrit. (à paraître);

and Woeser’s blog, Invisible Tibet (看不见的西藏)

Hat tip to JustRecently; 没有JustRecently就没有这文章。

Dog Eat Nationalism and Kobayashi Yoshinori

For the last several years I have been collecting the manga of Kobayashi Yoshinori, a rather strong-willed character who argues for a revival of Japanese nationalism and the shedding of Japan’s debilitating war guilt.  He’s been consequently been accused of many things: denying the harm of Japan’s colonization of Taiwan (1895-1945), minimizing the comfort women or ianfu system, glorifying Japanese war criminals, and whitewashing the Rape of Nanking.

Throw in a talk-show appearance, a little hate mail, a few hundred drawings, and you have a good day of Kobayashi’s work.  Love him or hate him, one has to admit that he is fiercely productive.

For as long as I have been reading his work, I have been frustrated by the apparent lack of interest among translators in these manga.  They deserve to be translated!  And I have mentioned this in just about every class I have taught for the last three years.  Fortunately, today a resourceful student, Michael Gray at Pacific Lutheran, directed me to some excerpts where fans/enthusiasts have done just that, available here (about whaling).

More excerpts and translations from Kobayashi’s oeuvre are available here (on pro-American Japanese).

Both translations are from Tokyo Damage Report, the very rich web resource on things Japanese.

And what’s more, as it combines dogs and sea life, the pages which Stephen at Tokyo Damage Report elected to translate elide rather nicely with my October 15 essay on the anti-Japanese internet in Beijing:

Kobayashi's reflection on dog eating in Korea and the whaling industry in Japan

Kobayashi's reflection on dog eating in Korea and the whaling industry in Japan; via Tokyo Damage Report

Perhaps Chin Music Press or Montreal’s truly magnificent Drawn & Quarterly can be enticed into such a project.  Chinese audiences are well aware of Mr. Kobayashi’s work, as portions of it have been reprinted (about 4-5 pages worth) in retrospectives on WWII published in Beijing in 2005; a translation into Chinese would broaden the ability of Chinese interlocutors to refute the perspectives, much the same way that translations of Chinese nationalistic texts can help moderate Japanese to tone down, or at least understand, the excesses of Chinese national sentiment.

How much do you want to bet that the first full-length translation of one of his manga is available in French before English?  I will take as many wagers on bande dessiné as I can afford!

Kobayashi, refering to Pearl Harbor, ironically calls for support for American policy of preemptive strike

Kobayashi, refering to Pearl Harbor, ironically calls for support for American policy of preemptive strike; via Tokyo Damage Report

Zeit Literatur

Lots of new Chinese writing is being translated into German.  More this afternoon.

But for the time being, recognize that German audiences are going to have their heads turned inside out by the appearance, in 2009, of no fewer than four “bad girl” novels such as Shanghai Baby being rendered into German.  And recall that exotic Germans are heavily occidentalized in Wei Hui’s text!

Die Zeit, Literature Supplement in anticipation of Frankfurt Book Fair, Oct. 8 2009

Die Zeit, Literature Supplement in anticipation of Frankfurt Book Fair, Oct. 8 2009