Monday, July 13, 2009

Taipei publisher releases Mandarin translation of 'Taking Woodstock' book by Elliot Tiber

Taiwan publisher releases Mandarin translation of 'Taking Woodstock' book

Film director Ang Lee's movie was based on Elliot Tiber's memoir of those heady days

by Dan E. Bloom

WEBPOSTED: August 15, 16, 17 -- 1969 (time warp)

Here comes Woodstock Nation, and despite the cultural differences
between what life was like in Taiwan in 1969 and how America was
transformed by that year, Taiwanese readers are about to find out what
the fuss was all about. In those days in Taipei, the KMT used the
newspapers to characterize the news-making music concert as "a hippie
invasion" and most young people here had no idea what was really going
down across the Pacific.

Even Ang Lee (李安), who would grow up to become one of Taiwan's most
famous film directors and make a name for himself in Hollywood and
Cannes, did not know what Woodstock was all about at that time due to
the KMT propaganda..

Now he does. His humorous movie about some Woodstock shenanigans opens
here in September,
according to industry sources.

"Taking Woodstock", set for its Hollywood premiere in mid-August
to co-incide with the 40th anniversary of the muddy and drug-fueled
Woodstock music festival in upstate New York, was adapted from a quiet
and mostly-unheralded "memoir" that Woodstock Nation raconteur Elliot
Tiber, now in his 70s, penned a few years ago.

The movie opens in Taiwan on October 9th. Ang Lee might attend in person.

The book, originally published by Square One Publishers in the U.S. in 2007, has
now been translated into Chinese for the Taiwanese market by Yuan-Liou
Publishing Company and titled [胡士托風波; The Events of Woodstock], with a
subtitle in English on the cover: "A True
Story of a Riot, a Concert, and a Life."

Translated by veteran translator Josephine Liao (廖月娟), the book comes
in at 228 pages
and will be released as a tie-in to Lee's movie. According to Wu
Chia-heng, deputy editor-in-chief at Yuan-Liuo, the book was acquired
by his foreign rights department due to hisown personal interest and
because of Ang Lee's upcoming movie release.

"I was the editor of Ang Lee's autobiography that appeared in Chinese
here a few years ago, so I was naturally interested at this
book about Woodstock," Wu said in a recent email. "Our translator for
the book, Josephine Liao, is one of the best translators in Taiwan,
and she has done
several books by Vladimir Nabokov and Jared Diamond, too."

The book's English title, "Taking Woodstock'" -- and by extension, the movie's
title, too -- means two
things, according to Rudy Shur, the book's U.S. publisher.

"It means taking stock of your life and, in a sense, taking control of
destiny," he said in an email. "Anthony Pomes, our marketing director,
came up with the title, and Ang Lee used it for his movie as well."

The Chinese title for the movie and the book is a little bit
different, according to Wu, noting that the Mandarin characters mean
something like "Woodstock Disturbance" or "The Events at Woodstock".
"That's the title Lee chose for the movie's Chinese title, and we used
it for the book, too," Wu said.

Shur said the title English worked well for readers in North America.
"We had lots of titles in mind when we were working on the book, but
'Taking Woodstock' seemed to fit
best, based on the story," Shur said. Lee and Schamus also liked the
title and kept it for their movie, he said.

How the book will be received in Chinese in Taiwan will be interesting
to see, according to a publishing industry source
in Taipei. "Woodstock is not really very well understood by most
people in Taiwan, but the movie, and now this book, will help to serve
as a kind of cross-cultural guide about what hippie and
'counterculture' life was like in
those days," he said.

When the Taiwanese translator of the book was asked if it was
difficult to translate, Liao
said in an email that, compared to some of her other translation
projects, it was "a piece of cake," adding: "From the very beginning,
translating Tiber's memoir was a love affair
on my part. I've translated two books by Vladimir Nabokov, 'Pale
Fire' in 2006 and 'Speak, Memory' in 2007, and for Nabokov I had to
translate his 999-line heroic couplets into rhyming Chinese poetry and
decode his riddles and allusions. That was really hard work, and it
took me six years to complete my translation of 'Pale Fire'. But to
take on the Woodstock project this year, not only was it a piece of
cake, but it was also a
pure joy for me, a literary carnival, and a grand tour of the Sixties
in America."

Liao, born in Taiwan three years before Woodstock happened, graduated
from the University of Washington in Seatlle with a degree in
comparative literature in 1990 and has been active in the translation
field here since then, she said. In addition to translating Nabokov's
works, she also did the Mandarin version of Jared Diamond's
"Collapse", she added.

The book's narrative reflects a young Elliot Tiber in his 20s who
helped pull off one of our generation's greatest rock
concerts, the U.S publisher Shur, 62, said in an email. The story
follows Tiber, who is gay but hid his sexual orientation
from his Jewish family, and includes his participation in the Stonewall riot
in New York, which helped fuel the gay-rights movement.

======================== BOOK INFO ===============

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