Comma Press is publishing the first full title in English by popular Chinese author Diao Dou, translated by Brendan O’Kane.
Points of Origin (November, £9.99) is a collection of short stories by Dou [pictured], who Comma describes as “one of China’s leading satirists”. Comma’s founder and editorial manager, Ra Page, acquired exclusive worldwide English-language rights directly from Dou. The book is being published in its original Chinese next year.
Page came across Dou’s work after one of his stories was featured in an anthology of Chinese writing that Comma published in English. Shi Cheng was published in 2012 and featured 10 stories about 10 Chinese cities. Dou’s contribution, “Squatting”, is about his hometown of Shenyang in Liaoning Province and it is also featured in Points of Origin. Comma successfully applied for a PEN Translates grant for a single author collection in order to acquire and translate the author’s collection of short stories.
The book has been translated into English by American Brendan O’Kane. In a YouTube video created by Comma, O’Kane talks about the experience of translating the stories: “The most glaring difficulty is the lack of almost any shared history or cultural touchstones. There are things Chinese authors can throw out and reasonably expect their readers to know that you can’t throw at English-speaking readers. As a translator I have to pick up some of the burden and reabsorb it and make the background information as unobtrusive as possible.” O’Kane only worked with Dou at the end of the process, but described him as “a delight to work with and very enthusiastic. He gave me really long and useful notes”.