Stories Found in Translation
Keith Dede had already fallen in love with Qinghai Province when he was introduced to the writings of Jing Shi and his novellas and short stories about rural life. A native of Nalong in Huangyuan County who has published widely in the local dialect, Jing Shi is a local luminary. Dede met him through mutual acquaintances, and the two struck up a quick friendship that last year led to the publication of an English translation of some of Jing Shi’s novellas titled Ballad of the Huang River and Other Stories.
In his introduction to the book, Dede warmly describes what makes Jing Shi such an unforgettable character: “A round face, framed by longish, slightly unruly bangs and chubby cheeks, is pulled wide by a somewhat cockeyed grin… . He is laughing, or singing, or relating an amusing anecdote. He flirts, pleads, plays for laughs, listens, corrects, explains, argues a bit, but mostly he is trying to entertain while also enlighten.”
The translation of Ballad of the Huang River started out as a class project for Dede’s 400-level Chinese language class and developed further with Susan Su B.A. ’11 as a key collaborator on the first-ever English translation of Jing Shi’s work. The stories are grounded in a warm and abiding love of the countryside and its eccentric characters, many of whom are based on people he has known. “His stories really transmit Qinghai’s culture,” Dede says.
Dede’s translation is available as a free download.