Chinese Speculative Fiction
Su Wei, Austin Woerner & Jeremy Tiang
Chinese Speculative Fiction

Join us for a special event with acclaimed Chinese novelist Su Wei and his translator Austin Woerner, who will read and present The Invisible Valley, a work of speculative fiction about the Chinese Cultural Revolution and an epic experiment in creative co-translation that has been ten years in the making. A rollicking adventure story set in the jungles of far southern China during the 1970s, The Invisible Valley follows a young man whose friendship with a family of migrant woodcutters plunges him into a strange world of magic, mysticism, and giant snakes. Su and Woerner tell the story of their unlikely friendship, their unique approach to translation, the literary legacy of the “Down to the Countryside” movement, and Su’s dramatic life story. In Chinese and English. Moderated by writer and literary translator Jeremy Tiang.


Su Wei is a Chinese nonfiction essayist and imaginative novelist, who spent his youth being “re-educated” through farm labor on a rubber plantation during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. He was a prominent influence on the Beijing literary scene during the 1980s “culture fever.” He later went on to teach Chinese language and literature at Yale University, where he met Austin Woerner, his student, who would later translate Su’s novel, The Invisible Valley (Small Beer Press, 2018). Inspired by Su’s experiences during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, The Invisible Valley, the first of his books to be translated into English, follows a teenager working in a mountain encampment, who finds romance and excitement in the bizarre and mythical. Ha Jin writes: “The Invisible Valley is an extraordinary novel. It opens, even to Chinese readers, the world of a southern hinterland, a world of rubber groves, mystery and superstition. At the same time, the novel is intimately rooted in China’s modern history and resonates with universal implications.”

Austin, a Chinese-English literary translator, has also translated two volumes of poetry: Doubled Shadows: Selected Poetry of Ouyang Jianghe, and Phoenix. He served as an editor for the innovative, bilingual Chinese literary journal Chutzpah!, and co-edited the short fiction anthology Chutzpah!: New Voices from China. He holds a BA in East Asian Studies from Yale and an MFA from the New School, and has also taught at Sun Yat-sen University, the first mainland Chinese university to offer a creative writing program in English. He is currently a lecturer at Duke Kunshan University. Over the course of six years, Su and Austin have worked closely together to “co-recreate” The Invisible Valley in English, and have also collaborated on a symphonic poem depicting the experiences of Chinese youth during the Down to the Countryside movement; their works explore displacement, isolation, exile, and the place of natural human longings for connection and love under oppressive sociopolitical climates.

Jeremy Tiang is the author of State of Emergency (Epigram Books, 2017) and It Never Rains on National Day (shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize). Jeremy is also a playwright, and has translated more than ten books from Chinese, including novels by Chan Ho-Kei, Zhang Yueran, Su Wei-chen and Yeng Pway Ngon. He is the recipient of a PEN/ Heim Grant, an NEA Literary Translation Fellowship, and a Henry Luce Foundation Fellowship.

This event will be livestreamed on the Asian American Writers’ Facebook page.

*The space is wheelchair accessible. No stairs. Direct elevator from ground floor to 6th floor.
*We strongly encourage all participants of the space/event to be scent-free.
If you all have any other specific questions about accessibility, please email Tiffany Le at with any questions on reserving priority seating.

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Chinese Speculative Fiction

Su Wei, Austin Woerner & Jeremy Tiang
Wednesday, July 25, 2018
7:00 PM
Asian American Writers’ Workshop
112 W 27th St Suite 600
New York NY 10001
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