Han Dong was born in 1961 in Nanjing, where he continues to live and work as a full-time writer. He has a long history in the Chinese contemporary poetry scene: he was not only very influential in avant-garde poetry in the 1980s but continues to be highly regarded as a poet today and has a seriously devoted following. He has edited groundbreaking literary magazines and websites such as Them and Today and was a leader of the 1998 “Fracture” movement, which encouraged independent writers to break free of conventional literary values. Today, characteristically, he continues to court controversy with his blogs and essays. He is also a respected novelist—his first, published in translation as Banished! by University of Hawai’i Press, was long-listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2008. He has won independent poetry prizes in China, and has made several literary tours in the West in recent years.
Nicky Harman’s great passion is the translation of contemporary Chinese literature, and she has had the privilege of working on several prize-winning novels, as well as short stories, nonfiction, and—most recently—poetry. Besides her translation work, Harman is active on the Chinese translated fiction website Paper Republic and in literary translation organisations in the UK.
A Phone Call from Dalian, by Han Dong
A Phone Call from Dalian
Edited by Nicky Harman
from Chinese by Nicky Harman, Maghiel van Crevel, Yu Yan Chen, Naikan Tao, Tony Prince and Michael Day
ISBN 978-0-9832970-1-7 (paper)
6 x 8
108 pages [bilingual Chinese/English]
Several things combine to make Han Dong the remarkable poet he is: quotidian themes, willed superficiality, colloquial language, and his individuality and sophistication in handling these things. Or, conversely: the deconstruction of heroic themes, the repression of conventional interpretation, the rejection of “literary” language, and defamiliarization as a fundamental textual attitude.
—Maghiel van Crevel
A skeptical, questioning, voice … engaged in subverting the quotidian,” Han Dong’s is a voice not yet heard in the West. His poetry has been described as “disconcerting, meditative, angry, passionate, sad, sarcastic, self–mocking and even a little silly.” This is a collection of considerable interest, which gives an insight into a new literature in the making, as the ancient culture of China struggles to reinvent its own modernity.