You heard it in the new year, you heard it in the spring. You glimpsed it a few weeks ago, and today, we are incredibly delighted to announce that our first ever print wuxia novel has arrived! Song of Exile was written by Yun Zhongyue and is translated by Guan Zhong!
Song Of Exile was originally published in 1965, and the 60s in general were known as the Golden Age of wuxia literature. Being a novel that went through the process of a publishing house, SOE comes with a tight plot, solid character development, and pacing that will draw you into the world of Cai Wenchang. This is also revisionist wuxia, a type that takes a more realistic and somewhat cynical look at the idea of heroes and villains.
Not only does SOE balance out the MC gender ratio on volare a bit XD, but it’s being translated by the very talented Guan Zhong. GZ is a veritable fount of translation knowledge and a fantastic writer himself. Such a combination of engrossing story and magic with word means that not only is this a song of exile, but a siren’s song commanding all of our attentions as well. 🙂
From the novel itself:
Born under a bad sign, little Cai Wenchang is blamed for an epidemic that killed his parents and over a hundred of his kinsmen in Cai Family Village.
Bullied, beaten, under-clothed and underfed, forced to work hard day in and day out, he ekes out a living the best he can.
A chance encounter with an old freak sets off a chain of events that will change his fate.
Having taken all the torment he can take, Wenchang decides to enter the jianghu and join the ranks of society’s seedy underbelly. He will walk his own path and show them that he is not a helpless lamb, that the years of abuse he received have been carved into his bones and engraved in his heart.
But once you enter the jianghu, it is not so easy to get out…
SOE launches with 21 chapters today and a daily release schedule. And now, some words from translator GZ!
The launch of Song of Exile today marks a few firsts for both volare and the Chinese webnovel community: the first licensed wuxia novel and volare’s first official translation of a work first published in print rather than on the web. But for me this project means much more than that.
When I first moved to Taiwan in 2010 with my wife, my first Chinese book purchase was a Yun Zhongyue novel. I could barely read Chinese then, but I recognized the character for “sword” on the spine and knew it was a wuxia novel. I didn’t know much about wuxia then, knew less about its history and development. I had never heard of Yun Zhongyue. In 2010 that was already true of almost everyone in Taiwan as well. Master Yun’s work had been out of print for years, his contributions to wuxia literature, along with those of many other authors, already long forgotten to all except a tiny few who still trawled the used bookstores for old reprints. The used novel I bought that day in a small shop underneath a 7-11 was a remnant of an all-but-deceased genre.
Today’s launch to me feels like a kind of conclusion, as if I have completed my training and must now descend the mountain and use what skills I have learned over the last seven-plus years to bring this novel, this genre, and this author to the English-reading world. I used to sit at my computer literally all day trying to read wuxia novels, seemingly making very little progress. I had been interested in Chinese literature for years, but there was just so much that had not been translated to English and likely never would be. I wanted to learn Chinese so I could read it for myself. I used translation as a means to improve my reading.
I first tried translating Song of Exile on spcnet in 2014 as a fan translation, but Master Yun’s writing was still too difficult for me. So I set it aside in favor of something easier. All along I hoped one day to publish an official translation rather than a fan translation because I wanted to be able to share it with the world, not just the ever-dwindling group of readers on that lonely internet forum.
Today that dream becomes reality. I hope I have learned enough to do the novel justice with my translation. Any errors or mistranslations herein are my own. I have to give big thanks to Master Yun’s family, who have been very cooperative and supportive of this project, and who have given me permission to translate Song of Exile and volare permission to publish it. Special thanks also to etvolare for her time and effort in bringing this project to life, for preparing a special contract and taking care of all the legal and administrative details that I would not have had a clue about. This project would not have happened without her.
It’s an honor and a pleasure to present, for the first time in English, Yun Zhongyue’s novel, Song of Exile, to the public. The man has already passed on, but his legacy will not be forgotten. ~GZ
Please, a warm hand and sparkly confetti for Song of Exile! Please say hello to the Yun Zhongyue’s family as well! I’ll be sending this post to them. 🙂