Since its first publication in Australia, my first novel, February Flowers, has been translated into nine languages (I did the Chinese translation myself). Two months ago, I received an email from a Mongolian girl named Altan erdene Sodnomragchaa and she said she was translating the book into Mongolian. She is currently studying Chinese in Taiwan.
Thus my correspondence with Aanjii began. I asked her about the naming culture in Mongolia, and she told me that Mongolians only call strangers by their full names, and they reserve special names for their family and friends. For her, she’s Altka for her family, Aanjii for her friends, Altan for her teachers, 啊薾妲 for her Taiwanese friends, and she has an English name too, Alice. Her Mongolian name means Golden Treasure.
In her letters to me, Aanjii talked about her loving family, her innocent, carefree childhood, where she was allowed to be just a child, and her study in Taiwan. Her family lives in Ulaanbaatar, a modern city where locals have access to movies and books from all over the world.
She told me that she resonated with Cheng Min, the younger one of the two main heroines in February Flowers, which made her want to introduce the book to the young people in her homeland.
I’ve had only a glimpse of the Mongolian culture through reading and other resources, including watching a BBC program about eagle hunting and training in the Western Altai Mountains in Mongolia. Mongolians seem such people with strength, warmth and a strong spirit.
Unlike February Flowers‘ other translators who have been commissioned by local publishers for their work, Aanjii is going to translate the book first, and then find a publisher in Mongolia. I admire her courage and hope that she’ll get a grant to help her.
Aanjii wrote again last week and said that she would love to invite me to Mongolia for a book tour when the Mongolian version of February Flowers is released.
Aanjii, thank you for your hard work, and I so much look forward to seeing you in Mongolia someday. 😀