4 February 2008

NEW BOOK - Ouyang Yu's "On the Smell of an Oily Rag"

On the Smell of an Oily Rag
Speaking English, Thinking Chinese and Living Australian
Ouyang Yu

ISBN 9781862547650
RRP AUS$27.95 NZ$39.90

Ouyang Yu gives his unique insight into Chinese and Western language and cultures, and makes us reflect on our own habits of thought from new angles.

Culturally diverse, On the Smell of an Oily Rag: Speaking English, Thinking Chinese and Living Australian draws examples from low and high culture and from the everyday and the literary life. Ouyang Yu shows that they are closer together than we usually think.

Based on the unique biji xiaoshuo (pen-notes fiction) genre and written in an accessible, readable and deliberately un-academic style, On the Smell of an Oily Rag is a seminal non-fiction book that creates its own genre of what Ouyang Yu calls, biji feixiaoshuo (pen-notes non-fiction), in its exploration of cultural, linguistic and literary similarities, differences and parallels between the English and the Chinese language in a distinctly Australian context. By drawing references from a range of literary and cultural works going as far back as The Book of Songs (1122-256 BC) and covering writers as diverse as Fernando Pessoa and Zhou Zuoren, this book treads where few dare adventure.

Scholarly and scatological, this cornucopia of fun and wisdom is a breathtaking picture of speech, thought and images from the world’s richest and oldest culture. On the Smell of an Oily Rag gives an insight into how English-language and Chinese-language cultures collide, contrast and illuminate each other. It’s about what is lost in translation and what can be gained by it. It stretches the imagination to an unprecedented degree where clich├ęs become cream and boundaries exist only to be unbound.


About the author

Ouyang Yu
came to Australia in 1991. He graduated from La Trobe University with a PhD in Australian literature and has since published over 40 books of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, literary translation and criticism in English and Chinese. His second full-length novel, Loose: A Wild History will be published in the UK in 2008. Ouyang edits Australia’s only Chinese literary journal, Otherland, and writes and teaches part-time in China and Australia. Ouyang’s website: http://www.ouyangyu.com.au/