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Horia Garbea x Stanley Chen: Diverse Genres, Translations and Cultivating Literary Scenes

At 7:00 p.m. on December 5th, 2020, the twenty-fifth event of the 5th China-Europe International Literary Festival was held online. Horia Garbea, the Romanian writer, together with Stanley Chen, the Chinese writer had a discussion under the topic of “Diverse Genres, Translations and Cultivating Literary Scenes”.


Chen Qiufan (A.K.A. Stanley Chan), award-winning Chinese speculative fiction author, translator, and curator. He is also a member of WSFA (Science Fiction Writers Association), the President of CSFA (Chinese Science Fiction Writers Association), and has a seat in Xprize Foundation Science Fiction Advisory Council. His representative works include Waste Tide (2020 Locus best first novel finalist) and the collection The Algorithm for Life and others. Most of his works have been translated into dozens of languages. Now he lives in Shanghai as the founder of Thema Mundi Studio.


Born 1962 in Bucharest, Romania. Civil engineer, PhD graduated from 1999. He teaches as a professor at the Environmental Engineering Faculty in Bucharest. He has published many literary books since the Romanian Revolution (1989): poems, short stories, two novels, criticism and 16 stage plays. He has translated into Romanian many plays by Shakespeare (A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Henry VI, Richard III, Macbeth etc.), Jacques Copi, Pierre Corneille, N. Machiavelli, Dario Fo, Eduardo de Filippo, Tennessee Williams, Marivaux, Normand Chaurette, Arthur Kopit etc. He has won many literary prizes for his work. He was the President of the Writers Association of Bucharest from 2003 to 2013, and now is the president of Bucharest-Poetry part of the Writers Union of Romania. He also works for Luceafarul de Dimineaţă, a weekly literary magazine Bucharest.


At the beginning of the conversation, Stanley Chen first introduced the development of scientific literature in China. From Liang Qichao to Liu Cixin, the writer of The Three Body Problem, the scientific literature slowly comes to people’s sight. Stanley felt happy with the progress scientific literatures have got and he also pointed out some problems. He mentioned Verne, one of his idols in literature area. And now, he is reading The Grace of Kings written by Ken Liu.


Horia then introduced the current conditions of Romanian literature and its changes in these years. he pointed out that Romania had a tradition that all the literary work in other languages would be translated into Romanian for the local readers to learn. And in Romania, there is a literary league for writers and translators to provide help in literature creation.


At the same time, Horia pointed out the inner connection within the Eastern European literature, which was influenced by the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 20th century. It was also influenced by the Western European literature because among the Eastern European writers were a group of migrants. Stanley Chen also shared his reading experience of the Eastern European works. He said that he loved the works written by Stanislav Lyme and Ziolang because in their works had a unique power. Horia said that although Romania is a small country, it still has one or two publishing house in each city and the country welcomes diverse literary works.


During the Q&A session, both of the writers shared their private reading lists. Stanley Chen recommended the scientific books written by Verne, 2001: A Space Odyssey written by Arthur C.Clarke, Stories of Your Life and Others written by Ted Chiang and Intelligence and Wisdom written by Song Bin, while Horia recommended the poems written by the famous Romanian female poet Anna Brandiana and the novels written by Eugen Ulicaro.


A reader asked, “since Romanian writers have been influenced by the writers from Western European, how will you tackle with such influence? What is the most important feature of Romanian literature?” Horia answered, “there are various literature themes and genres in Romania. Only some of writers are influenced by them. About 40 years ago, Romanian writers were also influenced by literatures from Southern America and Spain but most of Romanian writers hoped to focus on the reality to write some profound realistic works. 30 years ago, Romanian poetry was again influenced by ‘the worst generation of America’. And later, Romanian writers once more faced with new waves so it is hard to make a clear answer to the question.”


The China-Europe International Literary Festival has been held for 4 years. Every year, the Chinese writers, together with the writers from Europe, discussed a variety of topics on life and society. Once more, in the 5th China-Europe International Literary Festival, excellent Chinese writers and the writers from 27 European countries will continue the literary conversation between China and Europe.


At the end of the conversation, both of the writers extended their warm greetings to each other and expressed their pleasure to take part in the festival.


By Zong Cheng

Translated into English by Sarah Sa