Untranslated world literature: The Chinese novels of César Aira

Yunfei BAI*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Through a new perspective that critically draws on the latest findings of world literature studies, this article adds insight to non-translation – a topic thus far under-researched in translation studies – by probing its correlation with insufficient mediation as well as censorship (both real and potential). Specifically, the article focuses on the intriguing exclusion of two China- and Chinatown-themed works of fiction by Argentine writer César Aira, Una novela china and El mármol, from the author’s nine titles recently available in Chinese translation. I argue that the “political incorrectness” of both works in the current PRC context, compounded by a US publisher’s restrictive, filtered, yet indispensable mediation, has left Aira’s Chinese novels – paradigmatic of transculturality and worldliness in an age of globalization – both untranslated and untranslatable for the Chinese book market in the foreseeable future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-47
Number of pages15
JournalTranslation Studies
Issue number1
Early online date5 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

1 All translations from Chinese and Spanish in this article are my own unless otherwise noted.

2 Zhao’s translation titled 女裁缝与风 (The Seamstress and the Wind) is in fact a collection of two novellas by Aira, namely, La costurera y el viento and La cena. Likewise, Yu based her translation, 艾拉医生的神奇疗法 (The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira), on the 2007 Mondadori collection comprising effectively three novellas, namely, Las curas milagrosas del Dr. Aira (1998), Fragmentos de un diario en los Alpes (2002), and El tilo (2003).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • China
  • César Aira
  • censorship
  • mediation
  • non-translation
  • world literature


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