Dr. Christopher Rea receives Literature Translation Fellowship from National Endowment for the Arts in the U.S.

Congratulations to Dr. Christopher Rea, Professor of Modern Chinese Literature, who will receive the Literature Translation Fellowship of US$25,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts in the U.S. to support his translation into English of The Crossing of the Boars by Malaysian-Taiwanese author Zhang Guixing.

This fellowship is one of 18 announced Wednesday to support the translation into English of works written in 12 different languages from 16 countries.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to continue its longstanding investment in our nation’s literary translators,” said NEA director of literary arts Amy Stolls. “It is through their creativity and dedication that our nation’s literary landscape continues to be enriched with stories, perspectives, and ideas from around the world that reflect the rich diversity of cultures and strengthens our democracy.”

The Crossing of the Boars is widely regarded as the finest work to date by one of the most acclaimed authors currently writing in Chinese. Published in 2018 and set during the Second World War amidst the jungles and human settlements of Borneo, the novel relates a story of invasion, survival, and the porous boundaries between humans and beasts.

On Dec. 16, 1941, Japanese troops land at and begin a brutal three-year, eight-month occupation of Krokop, or the Village of the Boars. A fishing port with a cluster of several hundred stilt houses and a few acres of farmland, the rural locale is of little geopolitical import, but for the nearby petroleum refinery that the Japanese covet for their war effort. Once overrun with wild boars, Krokop now finds itself overrun with soldiers, who prove more difficult to expel. In The Crossing of the Boars, humans are subordinate to a broader ecology: of pythons, saltwater crocodiles, and hermaphrodite fish of river and swamp; hawks, eagles, sparrows, kites, falcons, and coucals on the wind; lizards, cicadas, long-tailed macaques, and the Bornean bearded pig. A stylistic masterpiece, Boars has won numerous literary prizes, including the Golden Tripod Award (2019), the Taipei Book Fair Award (2019), and the Dream of the Red Chamber Award (2020). In fall 2022, Zhang was awarded the Newman Prize for Chinese Literature.

Dr. Rea is the author of The Age of Irreverence, Chinese Film Classics, 1922-1949, and Where Research Begins (with Thomas Mullaney), he is also a prolific translator from Chinese into English. His book-length translations include China’s Chaplin, the Taiwanese play Shamlet, and The Book of Swindles (with Bruce Rusk), which has a second volume forthcoming. He is also creator of the Chinese Film Classics Project, the world’s largest public collection of early Chinese films with English subtitles. He is a recipient of UBC’s Killam Research Prize and the Association of Asian Studies Joseph Levenson Book Prize.

His translation of The Crossing of the Boars will be published by Columbia University Press.

Since 1981, the NEA has awarded 590 fellowships to 518 literary translators, with translations representing 80 languages and 90 countries. Visit arts.gov to browse bios and artist statements from all of the 2024 recipients and past Literature Translation Fellows.