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Author of many talents plots next chapter of life

By Xing Yi in London | China Daily | Updated: 2022-12-06 06:31

His books have been translated into different languages, includingan Italian version of Give Me a Girl at Age Eighteen. [Photo by Xing Yi/China Daily]

Carlos Ottery, a former editor at The World of Chinese, an English magazine and web portal of the Commercial Press, describes Feng's early works as "a teenage diary" in his review of Give Me a Girl at Age Eighteen, Feng's novel which was translated into English in 2019.

"While it is possible for a novelist to have success through an obsessional relationship with sex," writes Ottery, adding that Feng references both Henry Miller and D.H. Lawrence as inspirations.

He adds that "Eighteen does capture something of what it was like to come of age in Beijing as part of a post-70s generation … caught within an ideological reset of free-market reforms and Westernization".

Michelle Deeter, translator of Feng's Beijing, Beijing, says she found the novel very interesting when she was given a sample to read by Amazon Crossing, which made her decide to take on the translation. The book's English version was published in 2015.

"It uses offensive language. It can discuss topics that a US reader might find sensitive or uncomfortable," says Deeter about the biggest difficulty of retaining the style of Feng's writing while making it a page-turner.

"I would say Henry Miller maybe is more offensive, rude and racy and pushing the boundaries. However, Feng Tang clearly admires him, so there are certain styles or certain choices that do remind me of Miller," she says.

Some of Feng's books were also translated into Italian and French. However, Feng himself was disinterested in seeing his novels being translated into foreign languages.

"Literature is very difficult to render in another language, and I think most foreigners won't be interested in my stories," he says.

"Maybe they would be more interested in reading the stories about China when it was still poor and lagging behind, but my works are about young people experiencing the period of China's rapid transition."

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