Richard Charkin will lead a new publishing enterprise, Bloomsbury China, that aims to help the country “reach out and communicate with the rest of the world” and to better the West’s understanding of China. Charkin believes “Chinese writing, scholarship and culture have been underrepresented internationally”.
Bloomsbury China will launch in February 2018 and focus exclusively on books about China for Chinese readers, seeking both fiction and non-fiction in the English language. It will be supported by Bloomsbury’s global publishing services. Charkin, a former president of the International Publishers Association, recently received the Special Book Award of China in recognition of his contribution to the promotion of the cultural exchange between China and the rest of the world.
In February, Charkin stepped back to work two days a week as Bloomsbury’s executive director. He said: “The purpose of Bloomsbury China is to work with Chinese publishers and authors, and indeed Western authors, to publish books in English with the intention of improving the West’s understanding of China and helping China reach out and communicate with the rest of the world.”
The unit will launch in February 2018 with the publication of The Complete Dramatic Works of Tang Xianzu, regarded as the “Shakespeare of the East”, according to Bloomsbury. It is the first time his complete collected works have been translated into English and made available outside China.
In August it emerged that the Chinese authorities had demanded that Cambridge University Press remove 300 articles from one of its flagship journals, China Quarterly, which covered subjects such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and the Cultural Revolution. CUP came under fire for agreeing to the censorship but later reversed its decision.