Canada-unwritten / The stories I didn't write

A French-Canadian author is more popular in China than in Canada

(pitched in August of 2013)

Montreal-area author Francis Malka – who has written four books in French – says he was quite surprised when he found out that a Chinese publisher had purchased the rights to two of his works. The novels – La Noyade du marchand de parapluies (The Drowning of the Umbrella Merchant) and Le Violoncelliste sourd (The Deaf Cellist) – were published in simplified and traditional Chinese last year. Neither of the books had been translated to English.

The Chinese publisher printed 10,000 copies – about two times more than were published in Quebec, Malka said.

Very few books by Quebec authors have been translated to Chinese – in fact, Malka might be the first French-Canadian author from the Montreal area who had a book published in Chinese.

Malka is not sure what attracted the Chinese – other than the fact that they seemed to see a moral lesson in his stories – whereas as an author, he didn’t intend for the books to be interpreted in this way, he said. The novel about a deaf cellist, for instance, tells the story of a musician who makes a living by pretending to be deaf. At the end of the book, however, he actually loses his ability to hear. The Chinese seemed to see a lesson in the story – that if you do something bad, you will be punished,Malka said.

“It’s not my fault if the Chinese see a moral lesson in the story. It was not my goal. My goal is just to tell an interesting story, so that the reader will want to read to the end,” he said. “What I find interesting is that people from different cultures and countries will read the same book and understand it differently.”

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