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Translation, Disinformation, and Wuhan Diary

Anatomy of a Transpacific Cyber Campaign

Palgrave Macmillan

Authors:

  • Offers a unique perspective on a highly controversial book

  • Combines a personal and scholarly approach

  • Contains a first-hand account of online attacks from a translator's perspective

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Table of contents (12 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xv
  2. Introduction: Origins

    • Michael Berry
    Pages 1-12
  3. Viral Diary

    • Michael Berry
    Pages 13-29
  4. Translation and the Virus

    • Michael Berry
    Pages 31-39
  5. Attack the Title

    • Michael Berry
    Pages 41-55
  6. Unleash the Trolls

    • Michael Berry
    Pages 57-85
  7. Witch Hunt

    • Michael Berry
    Pages 87-102
  8. Pop Goes Fang Fang?

    • Michael Berry
    Pages 103-114
  9. Wuhan Diaries

    • Michael Berry
    Pages 115-134
  10. The Strange

    • Michael Berry
    Pages 135-157
  11. Reasons

    • Michael Berry
    Pages 159-177
  12. Lessons

    • Michael Berry
    Pages 179-200
  13. Coda: The Light

    • Michael Berry
    Pages 201-209
  14. Back Matter

    Pages 211-232

About this book

During the early days of the COVID-19 health crisis, Fang Fang’s Wuhan Diary provided an important portal for people around the world to understand the outbreak, local response, and how the novel coronavirus was impacting everyday people. But when news of the international publication of Wuhan Diary appeared online in early April of 2020, Fang Fang’s writings became the target of a series of online attacks by “Chinese ultra-nationalists.” Over time, these attacks morphed into one of the most sophisticated and protracted hate Campaigns against a Chinese writer in decades. Meanwhile, as controversy around Wuhan Diary swelled in China, the author was transformed into a global icon, honored by the BBC as one of the most influential women of 2020 and featured in stories by dozens of international news outlets.

This book, by the translator of Wuhan Diary into English, alternates between a first-hand account of the translation process and more critical observations on how a diary became a lightning rod for fierce political debate and the target of a sweeping online campaign that many described as a “cyber Cultural Revolution.” Eventually, even Berry would be pulled into the attacks and targeted by thousands of online trolls.

This book answers the questions: why would an online lockdown diary elicit such a strong reaction among Chinese netizens? How did the controversy unfold and evolve? Who was behind it? And what can we learn from the “Fang Fang Incident” about contemporary Chinese politics and society? The book will be of interest to students and scholars of translation, as well as anyone with special interest in translation, US-Chinese relations, or internet culture more broadly.


Reviews

Translation, Disinformation and Wuhan Diary is a powerful account of Professor Michael Berry’s unlikely encounter with COVID-19 when it first broke out in China in 2020. Through a gripping narrative, Berry describes his own experience in translating the renowned Wuhan writer Fang Fang’s controversial diary on the pandemic, and his reflections on a translator’s mission at a time when disease and cure, truth and rumor, political censorship and media freedom, public health and “people’s” justice, personal integrity and mass hysteria, national pride and global propaganda, are all mixed together. This book is far more than a personal story of a transcultural adventure and its frustrating outcome. It touches on a wide range of political and ethical issues from journalistic communication to linguistic rendition—and their political stakes—that concern all of us during a time of plague.” (David Der-wei Wang, Edward C. Henderson Professor of Chinese Literature, Harvard University, USA and author of Why Fiction Matters in Contemporary China) 
“Michael Berry is one of the best known and distinguished translators of Chinese literature into English. His translation of Fang Fang‘s Wuhan Diary was one of the most talked about books of 2020, and was widely reviewed in magazines such as the New Yorker, and the New York Review of Books. On one level, this is a rare and probing exploration of the translator’s craft, with Mr. Berry taking us behind the scenes of this momentous project. But more importantly, this book also gives us insights into how the West and China interact, and their increasingly fraught relationship.” (Ian Johnson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist, author of The Souls of China and Wild Grass)


“Public attacks called “struggle sessions” were common during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. On stages or in the streets, people who were accused of one or another political crime were surrounded, isolated, taunted, insulted, threatened, humiliated, spat upon and even beaten. Innocence was no defense, and defense was not an option; it would only trigger fiercer attack. Today Xi Jinping has refashioned the Maoist struggle session in cyber-form. It is a worrisome sign, not only for China but for the world. No book is better than Michael Berry’s in showing it.” (Perry Link, Professor Emeritus Princeton University/Chancellorial Chair Professor, UC Riverside and co-editor of The Tiananmen Papers)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Department of Asian Languages & Cultures, University of California, Los Angeles, LOS ANGELES, USA

    Michael Berry

About the author

Michael Berry is Professor of Contemporary Chinese Cultural Studies and Director of the Center for Chinese Studies at UCLA, USA. He is the author of Speaking in Images: Interviews with Contemporary Chinese Filmmakers (2006), A History of Pain: Trauma in Modern Chinese Literature and Film (2008), Jia Zhangke’s Hometown Trilogy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), Boiling the Sea: Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Memories of Shadows and Light (2014), and Jia Zhangke on Jia Zhangke (2022); the editor of The Musha Incident: A Reader on the Indigenous Uprising in Colonial Taiwan (2022) and co-editor of Divided Lenses (2016) and Modernism Revisited (2016).   

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Translation, Disinformation, and Wuhan Diary

  • Book Subtitle: Anatomy of a Transpacific Cyber Campaign

  • Authors: Michael Berry

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-16859-8

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: Social Sciences, Social Sciences (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2022

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-031-16858-1Published: 09 December 2022

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-031-16859-8Published: 08 December 2022

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XV, 232

  • Number of Illustrations: 2 b/w illustrations

  • Topics: Applied Linguistics, Asian Literature, Digital/New Media, International Relations, Asian Politics

Buy it now

Buying options

eBook USD 19.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book USD 29.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Other ways to access