Austin Woerner’s translator origin story

Mon 22 Jan 2018 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

How did a kid from Wellesley, Massachusetts become a Chinese-to-English translator lecturing at Duke Kunshan University in Shanghai?

Find out in this short video of Austin Woerner telling the story of his life in translation and his relationship with Su Wei, author of The Invisble Valley.



Ghost Brides and Very Big Snakes

Thu 4 Jan 2018 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

John Crowley did us the kindness of reading our forthcoming translation of Su Wei’s The Invisible Valley and says:

“Su Wei’s The Invisible Valley is a remarkable work, pungent, funny, and mind-widening. Austin Woerner’s translation is nearly invisible: it erases all barriers of strangeness and places the reader deep within a Chinese experience that comes to seem as familiar to us as our own daily round — if ours too had ghost brides and very big snakes.”

(In case you missed it, John has a new website, here, which isn’t quite a deep dive but will be a very enjoyable browse for any Crowley reader.)



Who Among Us?

Fri 8 Dec 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Who among us hasn’t been tricked into entering a “ghost marriage”? Library Journal is first past the post with the first trade review of Austin Woerner’s translation of Su Wei’s novel The Invisible Valley:

“In 1960s China, life takes a dramatic turn for 21-year-old Le Beiping immediately after he is tricked into entering a “ghost marriage” with Han, the dead daughter of the foreman from his reeducation group. Sent off to work as a cattle herder in a remote area called Mudkettle Mountain, Lu meets Jade, a woman in a free, loving community of “driftfolk,” who has three children by three different men in the community. Lu is soon adopted into the group and enjoys the contentedly nudist lifestyle of several individuals there. Based on the author’s own experiences, the story may surprise readers expecting a ghost story, but what comes to light at the end is more shocking and gritty than anticipated. The vernacular of the driftfolk, well translated by Woerner, recalls Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn; obviously these characters are not in the mainstream.”

* Request a free copy from LibraryThing.



Read by Millions

Wed 29 Nov 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

The Invisible Valley coverMillions of Chinese readers have read this novel but over here in the USA, there are not that many who have. Even the translator, Austin Woerner, isn’t here at the moment. He’s over in Shanghai (hello!) teaching at the Duke University campus. However, the author lives here, so that’s one more person who’s read it (probably uncountable times). And, lucky us, we’ve read it.

What am I talking about? The Invisible Valley, Su Wei’s first published novel and first to be translated into English. It’s huge, babby, monstrous, hot, humid, fascinating, immersive, and we’re going to publish it in April 2018. Are you curious? Reviewers can get advance uncorrected copies on Edelweiss and we’ve just added an excerpt here.



The Invisible Valley: Chapter 1 Ghost Bride

Wed 29 Nov 2017 - Filed under: Novel Excerpts, , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Author’s Note

In the late 1960s, at the call of Chairman Mao, 20 million Chinese students of middle- and high-school age streamed from the cities to the countryside as part of the “Down to the Countryside” movement. For years they lived among the peasants, separated from their homes and families, forced to give up formal schooling to be “re-educated” through hard agricultural labor. It was a time of great idealism and incalculable hardship.
In the southern province of Canton one million students were downcountried, many of them to state-run rubber plantations in the tropical highlands of Hainan Island.

Chapter 1: Ghost Bride

The Invisible Valley coverBlood-red snakeclouds gathered in the western sky, and the rubber trees glowed as if on fire. Lu Beiping counted the pits he’d dug that day on the recently denuded hillside, picked up the squad leader’s notebook, recorded his number, and stood scanning the list of names for Fong’s mark.

Nothing. She’d vanished. And their squad leader, Sergeant Fook, was nowhere to be seen either. With a sigh, Lu Beiping swatted away the head that hovered inquisitively over his shoulder.

—Okay, Chu, I don’t need the National Joint Newscast to tell me that they’re off Seeking Peer Support again. Am I right?

Seeking Peer Support: It was a fashionable term in those days. Sometimes they called it a “Revolutionary Heart-to-Heart.”

—Well, said Chu, smirking: I can’t speak to her whereabouts. But she did mention she was hoping you’d pick up her share of pork scraps at the ration supp tonight. And some of that frozen fish they just brought in from Whitehorse Harbor. Read more



New Books? New Books!

Tue 17 Oct 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

It is boom time here at Small Beer! Books are rolling off the printing presses, more are being sent for quick reprints (whoopee!), I’m working on a couple of contracts, lining up some books for next autumn, and here here here are a few fun, mindblowing, immersive, weird and fantastic (so: just the usual then?) books that we will publish next spring and summer.

In reverse order they are:

Alien Virus Love Disaster, a debut collection of door-stomping-down stories from Abbey Mei Otis

Half-Witch, a debut YA novel of by John Schoffstall

and The Invisible Valley, a debut novel by Su Wei translated by Austin Woerner

Don’t like vertical images? Like ebooks? Check them out on Weightless!