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Chi Zijian is the author of The Last Quarter of the Moon, which received the Mao Dun Literary Award, the highest honor for a novelist in China. She is also the only Chinese writer to have won the prestigious Lu Xun Literary Award three times for outstanding accomplishment in short fiction. Chi was born in Mohe, China, in 1964 and splits her time between there and the city of Harbin. Her other work includes Manchuria; A Clouded Light; White Snow, Black Raven, and others, and has been translated into many languages.
Bruce Humes is the translator of The Last Quarter of the Moon by Chi Zijian, as well as the bestseller Shanghai Baby by Wei Hui and other works. He is an American literary translator and critic of Chinese literature, specializing in non-Han Chinese authors. Since 2009 he has published the blog Altaic Storytelling and is a regular contributor to the Chinese literature in translation website Paper Republic. Bruce speaks several languages and currently lives in Turkey.
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The North American debut of one of China’s most celebrated authors, “Chi Zijian’s beautifully realised novel offers a detailed portrait of a way of life hard to imagine today” (The Independent).
At the end of the twentieth century, an intergenerational Indigenous family of the Evenki tribe living deep in the forested mountains of China’s eastern edge encounters existential change. An elder spins the daily tales of community drama against the fray of Chinese, Japanese, and Russian nation-building and resource extraction. As our narrator’s world is forced to the margins of empire and industrialization, her abiding and tender attention to her people’s core relationships—human, animal, spiritual, environmental—becomes itself an act of resistance.
In Bruce Humes’s inspired translation, acclaimed author Chi Zijian gives us an unabashedly intimate account of how an entire culture can be pushed to the vanishing point over the course of one lifetime. Through distinctive pace and slowness, the book renders an Evenki experience of interdependence and reciprocity with the natural world, where wilderness is infused with domestic life and spiritual intervention. From reindeer herding and ice fishing, to Shamanic songs and rites, to tallies of marriages, births, and deaths, this nomadic clan contends with preserving traditions and legacy alongside the threat of progress and displacement.
This essential addition to the Seedbank series shows real lives that don’t conform to the march of modernization, speaking profoundly to real endangerment of Indigenous communities and knowledge across the world. “When I look again at the fawn that is nearer and nearer to us, it feels as if the pale-white crescent has fallen to the ground,” our narrator concludes. “I’m crying, because I can no longer distinguish between heaven and earth.”
This epic, internationally recognized work humbly challenges us to see that all is shared and interconnected—joy and loss, creatures and peoples, the material and the magical..