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Gained in Translation: science fiction author and translator Ken Liu

Monday, March 18, 2019 at 4:30pm to 6:00pm

Klarman Hall, KG70
232 East Ave, Ithaca, NY 14853

Gained in Translation: Sci-fi Bridging the Gaps

Renowned science fiction author and translator Ken Liu is coming to campus as a part of the Cornell Contemporary China Initiative (CCCI) lecture series. Join Liu on March 18 in Klarman Hall Room KG70 from 4:30 - 6:00 as he delves into the world of Chinese sci-fi and translation theory.

Brought to you by the Einaudi Center’s East Asia Program, this is a free event open to the public and will be followed by an in-person book signing.

A three-time Hugo award winner, Liu’s work has been instrumental in bringing Chinese sci-fi to a global audience. He’s found a way to prevent what gets lost in translation -- making sense of two languages to bring one story to light. Titled "Betrayal With Integrity: Conformance and Estrangement in Translating Chinse Science Fiction", the talk will explore the frameworks of translation, the origins of Chinese sci-fi and Liu’s own award-winning novels. (To hear more about Chinese science fiction's popularity in the west, listen to this latest PRI radio report:

Liu’s visit itself bridges two initiatives of the East Asia Program: the Contemporary China Initiative and the Translation Studies Initiative. While the Contemporary China Initiative brings perspective on the global China of our time, the program’s Translation Studies Initiative critically evaluates how working between languages constitutes and enriches our concepts of areas, literatures, and histories. Liu’s work perfectly illustrates the rich interconnectedness of our intellectual lives in today’s world.

Buffalo Street Books will be at the event with books on offer if you don’t already have a copy of one of Liu’s acclaimed books. This talk is generously co-sponsored by the Cornell Society of the Humanities and the Ithaca College Department of Writing.

ON TUES. FEB. 19 6:00 pm at Ithaca College their Department of Writing hosts Ken Liu for a reading and talk.  Free and open to the public.  A book signing follows the reading with books made available from Buffalo Street Books.

Location: Clark Lounge, Campus Center, Ithaca College

More about the talk:

His talk titled, "Betrayal With Integrity: Conformance and Estrangement in Translating Chinse Science Fiction" is a one-hour lecture that discusses the origin of Chinese science fiction through translation of Western works. It proceeds to explore his own translation of the Hugo-winning novel, "The Three-Body Problem" trilogy, by Liu Cixin and its reception by readers in the West. Ken prepares the audience with some background on translation theory and the modern conception of translation as a performance in cultural negotiation and applies these academic concepts to genre literature in particular.

He concludes the talk by extending the theoretical framework of "translation" to his debut novel, "The Grace of Kings", which melds Western and Chinese epic traditions by transposing a foundational narrative from one culture into another.

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East Asia Program, The Society for the Humanities, Asian Studies, Olin Library, Uris Library, Comparative Literature, Asian American Studies Program, Asian & Asian American Center, Campus Activities, China and Asia-Pacific Studies, Cornell China Center, Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Global Learning, Global Cornell


cosochum, cascal, casfeatured




Cornell Contemporary China Initiative
Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Amala Lane

Contact Phone



Ken Liu

Speaker Affiliation

Independent author, translator

Dept. Web Site

Disability Access Information

wheelchair accessible; hearing assistance provided upon advanced notice

Open To

the public

Recent Activity

Amala Lane

Amala Lane left a positive review 3/18/2019

Disclaimer: My department i.e. East Asia Program organized this event. So I'm biased. But I really enjoyed Ken Liu's engaging style and insightful presentation on translation, Chinese science fiction and the power dynamics between Chinese and western sci-fi fantasy. His talk reveals the microagressions that abound in literature and in reaction to literature.

Zhaoxing Xu

Zhaoxing Xu left a positive review 3/18/2019


Bella DiFranzo

Bella DiFranzo left a positive review 3/18/2019

It was a truly great talk on all the complexities of translation as an act and how it is influenced by historical and cultural power dynamics.