Translating Walis Nokan: Intertextuality, Hybridity, and Minimalism in Contemporary Flash Fiction from Taiwan

During this event, the Discussion Group will host Coraline Jortay who will discuss the challenges she faced when trans-lating the flash fiction of contemporary Atayal writer Walis Nokan. Starting from three key characteristics of flash fic-tion, its shortness, hybridity, and intertextuality, she will ex-amine how flash fiction has been taken up in Taiwan to dis-rupt “indigenous literature” as a category where writers have historically been judged against their mastery of Chinese, and to move beyond readership expectations of indigenous writers as vectors of a certain notion of “cultural authentici-ty.” In this context, how are we to translate wordplay that purposefully deconstructs the Chinese script, when transla-tion itself shifts between non-alphabetical and alphabetical languages? How are we to translate shortness as inherent to a genre into wordy languages such as French where conci-sion does not necessarily work as well? And how to render the kind of global intertextuality that recurs everywhere in Walis Nokan’s stories, opening up conversations between figures real or imaginary as diverse as Borges, Don Quixot, Dracula, and Orwell?