HONG KONG — Ma Jian, an exiled Chinese novelist who lives in London, took the stage at a packed Hong Kong theater last month and asked the audience a question: Who among them had read “1984”?
香港——马建,一位居住在伦敦的中国流亡小说家,上月在香港一座挤满了人的剧场问了观众一个问题:他们中间谁读过《1984》?
Mr. Ma, 65, was at the annual Hong Kong International Literary Festival to promote “China Dream,” his satirical novel about President Xi Jinping’s eponymous domestic propaganda campaign. He told the crowd that the book, published last month in English (Counterpoint will offer it in the United States in May 2019), showed how the dystopian future that George Orwell’s fiction once warned about had become a reality in the Chinese mainland under Mr. Xi’s leadership.
65岁的马建当时是在一年一度的香港国际文学节上推介《中国梦》,他的一部讽刺小说,涉及的是习近平主席在中国进行的一场同名的宣传活动。他告诉观众,该书于上月以英语出版(Counterpoint出版社将于2019年5月在美国出版该书),展示了乔治·奥威尔的小说中曾经警告过的反乌托邦未来,已在习近平治下的中国大陆成为现实。
“I’m going to carve this book in stone and bring it to Orwell’s grave,” he said, before reading a passage from it that he had copied onto his iPhone.
“我要把这本书刻在石头上,带到奥威尔墓前,”在朗读他已复制到他的iPhone上的小说选段之前,他说。
“China Dream” is a sharper political allegory than Mr. Ma’s earlier novels. It crackles with bruising satire of Chinese officialdom, and an acerbic wit that vaguely recalls Gary Shteyngart’s sendup of Russian oligarchs in “Absurdistan,” or even Nikolai Gogol’s portraits of Russia’s provincial aristocrats in “Dead Souls.”
《中国梦》是一部比马建早前的小说更尖锐的政治寓言。它充满了对中国官场的激烈讽刺,其尖刻的妙语让人依稀联想到加里·施特恩加特(Gary Shteyngart)在《荒诞斯坦》(Absurdistan)中对俄罗斯寡头执政者的揶揄,甚至尼古拉·果戈理在《死魂灵》中对俄罗斯乡下贵族的描绘。
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Yet even for Mr. Ma, whose work is banned in mainland China, the novel is especially provocative because it makes a critique that is rarely uttered aloud these days by ordinary Chinese: that censorship and repression under a Xi-controlled Communist Party bears an eerie resemblance to that of the Cultural Revolution.
而即便是对于马建自己——他的作品在中国大陆被禁——这部小说也特别具有挑衅性,因为他对如今普通中国人很少能大声说出来的一个现象进行了批判:习近平控制下的中国共产党所进行的审查和镇压与文化大革命有着诡异的相似之处。
“Although he’s been living in exile for more than 30 years, Ma Jian’s depiction of China in his writing hasn’t been frozen in time,” said Maura Cunningham, a historian of modern China based in Ann Arbor, Mich., who interviewed Mr. Ma on stage at the Hong Kong festival.
“虽然已经过了三十多年的流亡生活,马建在作品中对中国的描绘并没有凝固在某个时间,”生活在密西根州安阿伯的中国近代史学家莫拉·康宁恩(Maura Cunningham)在香港的文学节舞台上采访马建时说。
“In ‘China Dream,’ Ma blends fact and fiction to explain how Xi Jinping and the party are enacting violence against, and even attempting to eradicate, the collective memory of China’s recent history,” she said.
“在《中国梦》中,马建以虚实结合的手法讲述了习近平及其政党如何以暴力对待、甚至试图根除中国近代史的集体记忆,”她说。
马建的《中国梦》英译本已在英国出版,明年将在美国出版。
马建的《中国梦》英译本已在英国出版,明年将在美国出版。 Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times
As if to underscore the novel’s message, Mr. Ma’s appearance at the literary festival was briefly canceled by the host venue, which said it did not want to “become a platform to promote the political interests of any individual.” Many people in Hong Kong saw it as yet another sign of declining freedoms in the semiautonomous Chinese city.
仿佛是为强调小说的讯息,马建在文学节的露面曾一度遭主办场地临时取消,主办方称其不愿“成为任何个别人士促进其政治利益的平台。”此举被很多香港人视为这个半自治城市的自由又一次遭受侵蚀
The venue, the Tai Kwun Center for Heritage and Arts, ultimately reversed course after a public outcry. But by the time Mr. Ma touched down here, his trip had became a sort of live demonstration of the struggle for free expression in China, as well as a test of whether his safety in this former British colony was guaranteed. (A few Hong Kong booksellers who sold banned political books disappeared in 2015 and later turned up in custody on the Chinese mainland.)
主办场地大馆古迹及艺术馆最终在公众抗议之后扭转了做法。但到马建来到这里之时,他的此行多少已成为中国言论自由抗争的一个活生生的示例,也是对他的安全在这个前英国殖民地是否有保障的检验。(2015年,一些出售政治禁书的香港书商失踪,后来发现已被拘押中国大陆。)
Flora Drew, Mr. Ma’s partner and longtime translator, wrote in an email that when she dropped him off for his flight to Hong Kong, she worried that she might not see him again. “I could tell he was thinking the same, although neither of us said anything,” she said.
马建的伴侣和长期合作译者天衣(Flora Drew)在邮件中写道,在送他去搭乘前往香港的班机时,她担心会再也见不到他。“我能感觉到他的想法是一样的,尽管我们什么都没说,”她说。
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Many people urged him not to make the trip, saying the festival was not especially important. “But he said it was precisely because it wasn’t that important that he felt it was important for him to go,” Ms. Drew said. “He was determined to carry on as usual, and not to let the censors win.”
很多人劝他这次不要去,说这个文学节并不是特别重要。“但他却说正是因为它没那么重要,所以他觉得他去很重要,”天衣说。“他下决心按原计划前往,不能让审查者得逞。”
In Hong Kong, Mr. Ma told reporters that while he did not think literature on its own could resist a political force, he saw the reinstatement of his invitation as a victory against self-censorship and a celebration of fiction’s healing powers. “Only in literature can we fully express the injustices of society, the extremes of human nature and our hopes for a beautiful future,” he said.
在香港,马建告诉记者,文学虽然无法与政治势力抗争,但他将恢复对他的邀请一事视为“对自我审查的胜利”,以及小说治愈力量的颂扬。“只有在文学中,我们才能充分表达社会的不公、人性的极端和对美好未来的希望,”他说。
In an interview the next day, Mr. Ma pointed out an irony. When he lived in Hong Kong in the years before its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, local writers would tell him that mainland politics had no place in local prose, which they felt should be gentler and more tender. But that was years before the recent erosion of freedoms in the territory, whose “one country, two systems” arrangement was supposed to give it a high degree of autonomy until at least 2047.
在次日的一次采访中,马建指出了一件很讽刺的事情。当他在香港1997年回归大陆之前居住在此的时候,当地作家会跟他说,香港本土的写作应该温婉柔和一些,与大陆政治无关。但那是在这一地区的自由被侵蚀之前很多年,“一国两制”的安排本来承诺香港可以保持高度自治至少2047年。
Now, as with Tibetan culture, “the autonomy of Hong Kong literature and language is vanishing,” he said, speaking over espressos and jazz music in a dark-paneled hotel lounge. “It may take 10 to 20 years, but the process has started.”
而现在,就像西藏文化一样,“香港文学和语言的自治权正在消失,”他坐在暗色调镶板装饰的酒店大堂,就着意式咖啡和爵士乐说。“可能要10到20年,但这个过程已经开始。”
Mr. Ma was born in the eastern coastal city of Qingdao in 1953, four years after the Chinese Communist revolution of 1949. He initially worked as a manual laborer and a performer in a propaganda theater troupe, and moved to Beijing in the late 1970s to become a painter and photojournalist.
马建1953年出生于东部沿海城市青岛,也就是1949年中国共产革命四年后。他起初干过体力劳动,并在文工团当过演员,70年代末去了北京,成了画家和摄影记者。
His literary career began when he set off on a three-year journey across China, and later mined his experiences for “Stick Out Your Tongue,” a novella that documents a Chinese drifter’s journey through Tibet. Mr. Ma said the government placed a blanket ban on his work soon after that book was published, and later barred him from visiting the mainland.
他在中国旅行了三年,从此开始了自己的文学生涯,后来将自己的经历用于写作中篇小说《亮出你的舌苔或空空荡荡》,作品纪录了一个中国流浪者在西藏的旅程。马建说,那本书出版不久后,政府就全面禁止他的作品,后来又禁止他访问大陆。
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“China Dream” may be the purest distillation yet of Mr. Ma’s talent for probing the country’s darkest corners and exposing what he regards as the Communist Party’s moral failings. The slender novel charts the mental breakdown of Ma Daode, a farcically corrupt provincial official who, when he is not busy arranging trysts with mistresses, is devising a “China Dream Device” that would help Mr. Xi’s increasingly authoritarian government erase civilians’ memories of the country’s postrevolutionary past.
马建探索中国最黑暗角落、揭露他眼中的共产党的道德缺陷,《中国梦》或许是这种才华最纯粹的结晶。这本薄薄的小说记录了马道德的精神崩溃,他是一个腐败到可笑地步的省级官员,在忙着安排与情妇们幽会之余,还致力于设计一种“中国梦装置”,可以帮助习近平日益独裁的政府抹去民众对这个国家对革命后的历史的记忆。
But the project fails, mostly because the repression and censorship that Ma Daode carries out as a ham-handed functionary constantly triggers flashbacks to violence he suffered through — and participated in — as a young man during the Cultural Revolution.
但这个计划失败了,主要是因为,作为一个笨拙的公职人员,马道德实行的镇压和审查不断令他回忆起自己在文革期间经历并参与的暴力事件。
“Why was I not buried along with my comrades, all those years ago?” Ma Daode asks himself at one point, after passing near the graves of victims of Mao-era violence. Even a visit to a brothel called the “Red Guard Nightclub” does not help him clear his mind. The prostitutes there are dressed in military uniforms, and his mind drifts from lust to a painful vision: the anguished face of his father, who committed suicide after suffering beatings at the hands of Mao-era officials.
“那么多年前,为什么我没有和同志们埋在一起呢?”马道德在经过毛泽东时代暴力事件受害者的坟墓附近时这样问自己。即便是去了一家名为“红卫兵夜总会”的妓院,也无助于他理清思路。那里的妓女穿着军装,他的思绪从情欲转向痛苦的画面:父亲痛苦的面容——他父亲在遭受毛泽东时代官员的毒打后自杀了。
But even if “China Dream” paints a withering portrait of China’s official class, Ma Daode’s pangs of conscience also suggest that even people who participate in a deeply corrupt and repressive system are capable of redemption. Mr. Ma said he had modeled the character on Winston Smith, Orwell’s protagonist in “1984,” who struggles to reclaim a sense of history even as an authoritarian government attempts to create a new reality.
但是,虽然《中国梦》为中国官僚阶级描绘了一幅颓败的画像,马道德的良心之痛也表明,即使是那些参与极度腐败和压制性制度的人,也能够得到救赎。马建说,他以温斯顿·史密斯(Winston Smith)为原型塑造了这个人物,他是奥威尔的《1984》的主人公,虽然威权政府试图塑造新的现实,史密斯还在努力探求一点历史真相。
“In every single dictator there is a speck of morality,” he said, leaning across the table and pressing his thumb and forefinger together for emphasis. “Even Stalin or Hitler or Mao Zedong: They were not always monsters throughout their whole lives.”
“每个独裁者身上都有一点道德,”他从桌子另一头探过身子,拇指和食指握在一起,强调自己的意思。“就算是斯大林、希特勒或毛泽东:他们一生中也不总是怪物。”
Yet, because Mr. Ma’s works have been banned in mainland China for his entire literary career, his message is not getting through to readers there — at least while Mr. Xi, who under constitutional changes passed this year can be president for life, remains in power. Ms. Drew said that his new novel is not even available in Hong Kong.
然而,由于马建的作品在他整个文学生涯中都被禁止在中国大陆出版,他的讯息并没有传达给那里的读者——至少在习近平在位时会是这样,凭借今年通过的宪法修正案,他可以成为终身国家主席。天衣说,他的新小说甚至在香港都买不到。
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“To Chinese readers,” Mr. Ma said, “I’m a dead man.”
“对于中国读者,”马建说,“我已经是个死人。”