《芳华》作者严歌苓,用英语写起小人物来,也一样狠

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冯小刚电影《芳华》上映,旅美作家严歌苓的又一部小说被搬上了大荧幕。此前,陈冲的《天浴》、张艺谋的《金陵十三钗》、《归来》都来自于这个女人。

她的小说讲着不同的故事,但都会用细致入微的笔触,书写被大时代抛弃的小人物。

严歌苓唯一一本英文创作的小说《赴宴者》也是这样,讲述了又一个小人物的故事,轻松笔调不失荒诞。友邻优课朗读了小说第一章的部分内容。

  • 书名:赴宴者 The Banquet Bug
  • 作者:严歌苓
  • 背景:下岗工人董丹在一次找工作时, 阴差阳错成了记者招待会上的“座上宾”。在宴会上,他不仅饱食了一顿大餐,而且还得到了一小笔车马费。从此,一场场饕餮盛宴成了他的正经营生…

The Banquet Bug

A couple of days later, Dan saw an employment ad in a newspaper. It said that a five-star hotel needed security guards, and that candidates must be taller than 1.8 meters. As a tall, strong, good-looking man, Dan figured he had a chance. He went to the hotel in his best outfit, a polyester sports jacket atop khaki slacks, with a pair of black leather shoes to match a fake Dunhill bag he borrowed from a neighbor.
过了两天,董丹在报上看到一则招工广告。一家五星级酒店征聘警卫,要求应聘者身高一米八以上,身强体健,五官端正。董丹穿上了他最体面的行头:一件化纤合成料的西装外套,一条卡其裤,脚上的黑皮鞋,配上跟一个邻居借的“Playboy”手提包。

As he wandered into the lobby, a woman approached him asking if he was here for the meeting. He nodded yes, and she said the meeting had already started.She ran him up the escalator, through an indoor balcony, and out to a ballroom with tables laid for a banquet.
他刚晃进大厅,就迎上来个女人,问他是不是应邀而来。他点点头。她说他来晚了,会谈早就开始了,说着就把他推上了电梯。下了电梯穿过中庭长廊,来到一间大宴厅,里面的宴会正要开始。

A banner hanging over the podium said “Donate Your Wealth, Plant Forests, Fight Desertification, and Take Back Our Green Fields!” The woman asked him to please sit down wherever he could find a seat, then disappeared.
前方麦克风上方挂着条红布幅,上头写着:“植树造林,向沙摸索回绿地!”那女人让他自己找位子坐下,一面就消失了。

He sat at a table next to the door. The banquet had already begun, and he was starved, so he swept through the dishes in front of him without knowing what they were.
他在靠门边的一张桌子旁坐下。宴会已经开始,他正好饿急了,就把面前盘子里的东西全扫进肚里,也不知道都吃了些什么。

A man sitting next to him introduced himself as a reporter from the Beijing Evening News and asked which press outlet Dan belonged to. Wishing to be left alone to enjoy the free lunch, Dan answered he was from the Beijing Morning News. The guy said he’d never heard of it, and Dan replied that it was newly established. A Web site? Yes, yes, a Web site.
他邻座的一个男人向他自我介绍,他是的《北京晚报》记者,又问董丹是哪个单位的。董丹只希望谁也别理他,让他好好地白吃一顿,随口回答他是《北京早报》的。那人说他没听过,董丹说是家新媒体。网络媒体吗?没错,是网络媒体。

After Dan was stuffed and was thinking about slipping out, the reporter asked if Dan would go with him to pick up their fee. What fee? Oh, just the two hundred yuan for their attendance, what they call “money for your troubles”: submit your business card and the host will pay you two hundred yuan for the article you might write about the meeting.
董丹吃饱喝足了,正打算找机会开溜,那记者问他要不要一块儿去领钱。什么钱?就那两百块车马费呀,他们的“意思意思”劳驾大伙儿跑一趟,给这个会议宣传宣传,造造声势什么的。把你的名片交给他们,他们就给两百块,指望你回去写篇报导呗。

Dan silently gulped the air: two hundred! That’s several times a reserve worker’s monthly salary, plus a meal fit for a king. And all it takes is a business card!
董丹干咽了几下口水:两百块!等于他们下岗工人半个月的月薪,还吃得跟皇上似的——不过就是一张名片的事!

Leaving the banquet, Dan went directly to a print shop. He picked out an expensive-looking design and had a bunch of cards made. The card said he was a reporter from some Internet news site. He had made some inquiries at the banquet and found out that many Web-based media outlets were going in and out of business every day.
一出门董丹就直奔一个印刷铺子。他挑了最华贵的式样,印了一大沓上头有某网络传媒字样的名片。在酒席上他早打听清楚了,网络传媒这东西,反正每天有无数家开张、又有无数家倒闭。

Up to this morning in early May 2000, when he is taking a shower for the noon banquet that will mark a turning point in his life, Dan has made a nice living eating banquets.
直到2000年5月的这个将要在他生命中出现转折的早晨,吃宴会成了他的正经营生,日子过得挺滋润。他站在淋浴的水流里,为今天的午宴做准备。

Rubbing himself down with a rough washcloth, Dan asks Little Plum if she believes that he has tasted all the dishes of all of China’s cuisines. Yes, she believes he has. He feels a bit unsatisfied. Every time he tries to impress her, she is too easily impressed.
他一面用块粗糙的毛巾搓背,一面问小梅,信不信他已经把全中国的美食都尝过了。她说她信。这回答让他不太满足。每次他想要在她面前拽一拽,她都是这么容易就被唬住了。

If asked whether he qualifies as the banquet eating master, she would answer, of course, who else does? She gives him all the wide-eyed admiration he wants, and the lack of challenge bothers him.
如果问她,他是否够格做个首席美食专家,她一定说:当然,你不够格谁够格?她那睁着大眼睛的祟拜样固然是讨董丹欢心的,而正是缺乏挑战性让他觉得没劲。

Looking up, he sees her face red with the effort of lifting the rubber tube. She is twenty-four, small but substantial, with a head of natural curls pulled back into a ponytail, exposing her smooth, still adolescent face.
他抬起头,看见小梅双手高高举着水管,脸都累红了。她今年二十四,又小又饱满的身段,自来卷的头发往脑后一系,露出一张小姑娘似的圆润脸蛋。

“But you are wrong this time,” he says. “There was one dish I had never set chopsticks on until yesterday.” “What is it?” Little Plum asks.
“错了。”他说,“有个菜我就从来没吃过。” “什么菜?”小梅问。

“I couldn’t make out what it was at the first bite. Then I looked at the menu and was shocked.” He looks up at his wife through the streams of water. “Can you guess what it was made of?”
“一口咬下去,吃不出来。把菜单拿来一看,可吓着我了。”他隔着水汽朝她看一眼,“你猜那菜是什么做的?”

She shakes her head, smiling: “Can’t guess.” Every time she is confronted by a word riddle or a guessing game, she surrenders before tiring her poor little brain.
她马上摇头,笑眯眯地:“猜不着。”每次跟她玩猜字或谜语,她总是这样立刻投降:她的小脑袋才不去费那个事。

“The-dish-was-made-of-a-thousand-crab-claw-tips.” Dan Dong sounds out every word. “A thousand. Just imagine how they cracked all those claws and shelled them. Imagine: all that meat was once the tiny fingertips of those poor little monsters.”
“那道菜是用一千个螃蟹爪尖的肉做的。”董丹一个字一个字地说,“一千个!想想看,光是破碎每个爪子,把里面的肉抠出来得费多大工夫!就是那些螃蟹的手指头尖儿啊!”

He waits for her to ask how many crabs they had to kill for that many claw tips. But she just quietly absorbs her astonishment.
他等着她继续追问:那得宰多少只螃蟹才凑齐这么多蟹爪!可她没做声,默默地消化这条惊人的信息

“When your chopsticks pick the little fingertips, they tremble and jiggle, almost slipping off before your mouth catches them.” He lets the water run through his hair, rinsing off the rich shampoo lather. “I hope next time they put the menu on the invitation. If there is ever a crab finger dish again, I will smuggle you in. Trust me, it’s worth the risk.”
“那蟹爪肉又嫩又滑,筷子一挑,还没搁嘴里,就滑下去了。”他让水朝他头上淋,好把洗发精泡沫冲干净:“每回他们要是在邀请函上印菜单就好了。再有‘千蟹指’这道菜,我就带你混进去尝尝。为它你冒一回险,值了!”

[完]

严歌苓简介

著名旅美作家,好莱坞编剧协会会员,中国作家协会会员和奥斯卡最佳编剧奖评委。以中英双语创作小说,作品多侧重对社会底层人物、边缘人物的关怀以及对历史的重新评价,折射出复杂的人性,哲思和批判意识。代表作品:《少女小渔》(张艾嘉执导同名电影)、《小姨多鹤》(孙俪同名电视剧)、《金陵十三钗》(张艺谋执导同名电影)、《第九个寡妇》、《赴宴者》、《扶桑》、《穗子物语》等等。曾获华裔美国图书馆协会“小说金奖”、亚太国际电影节最佳编剧奖,台湾电影金马奖最佳编剧奖。

《赴宴者》The Banquet Bug

《芳华》作者严歌苓,用英语写起小人物来,也一样狠

《赴宴者》是严歌苓第一本用英文创作的小说,虽然写作初衷是为了在英文文学创作中找存在感,但效果还不错,她的冷面幽默逗乐了整个美国。《赴宴者》于2006年在美国出版后,受到国际文坛的普遍好评,并荣获华裔美国图书馆协会授予的“小说金奖”,在美国亚马逊网站上被评为五星级图书,还被BBC广播作为“睡前一本书”整篇朗读。

“这是一本轻松的小说,以素描的手法勾勒出众生相,但严歌苓机智风趣的语言,以及小说紧凑的情节设置和对当代中国种种荒谬的敏锐观察,让你足够放心,这一定是本有趣的读物。”——英国《卫报》

“毫无怨言地忍受苦难被认为是中国人的典型品质,用中国话说,这叫’吃苦’。然而董丹不过是想要吃点好的,还有就是攒够钱给他媳妇儿买个带厕所的公寓。”——《纽约时报》

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