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WINNER: 2017 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize

Longlist: 2017 National Translation Award


Xi Xi: Winner of the 2019 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature


Not Written Words is the second title in Zephyr's Hong Kong Atlas series, the first-ever series to showcase Hong Kong poets in English translation.


Xi Xi's work details the constantly shifting urban space of Hong Kong—between tradition and modernity—as well as the multilingual zones created by its Mandarin and Cantonese speakers. Best known for her short stories, essays, and screenplays, this is the first major collection of Xi Xi's poetry in English translation. Her writing displays a childlike wonder and keen ear for the constantly evolving space of Hong Kong and southern China. The haunting, often morbid lyricism that marks her work has won her many awards, a devoted following in Hong Kong and Taiwan and a growing audience across the globe.


Xi Xi (Cheung Yin) came to Hong Kong from Shanghai in 1950, and became one of the most famous writers in Hong Kong, and its most innovative poet. Her first work was published in 1955, when she was still a teenager, but she only gained widespread recognition in 1983, when a story won a prestigious prize in Taiwan. She has published 31 books (7 novels, 21 short story and essay collections, one novella, and two poetry collections), as well as newspaper and magazine columns, film theory and criticism, art criticism, translations, and screenplays. She graduated from the Grantham College of Education in 1958 and worked as a primary school teacher. In the 1960s she adopted Xi Xi as her pen name.


Jennifer Feeley received her M.Phil and Ph.D. from Yale University in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures. Her research, teaching and writing interests include literary translation, modern Chinese literature and culture, modern and contemporary Chinese poetry, Chinese cinema and popular culture, and the poetry of Hong Kong, as well as translations of poems by Leung Ping-kwan, Zhu Zhu, Xi Xi, Zhou Zan, and Tang Danhong.


Read a conversation with Xi Xi in LitHub here.

Not Written Words, by Xi Xi

  • Not Written Words
    Xi Xi
    from Chinese by Jennifer Feeley
    ISBN 978-1-938890-12-3 (paper) 
    6 x 8
    152 pages [Bilingual Chinese/English]

  • The most important writer to have emerged from the former British Crown Colony of Hong Kong, Xi Xi has long been hailed by leading critics as a major voice in global Sinophone literature. Chiefly known among her readers for her towering achievement in fiction, Xi Xi actually began her career as a poet, was once an editor of a poetry supplement, and has steadily produced a unique body of poetry. Combining quiet lyricism with a refreshing (re)discovery of the daily and even the mundane, Xi Xi’s poems often recall some of the very best of Wislawa Szymborska, the 1996 Nobel laureate from Poland. Exquisitely capturing the subtleties and nuances, Jennifer Feeley’s translation is a tour de force, a gem in itself.
    —William Tay, Professor Emeritus, University of California, San Diego and President, INK: A Literary Monthly (Taipei)


    "The work of Xi Xi sometimes seems deceptively simple, but this simplicity actually contains complexity of meaning and is worth multiple readings. Feeley’s excellent translations extends and ably captures the spirit and language play contained within. Reading these poems, we become synesthetes: we see sounds and taste the words." — Jennifer Anne Eagleton, Cha Journal (read full review here)

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