This paper introduces the concept of “world author,” taking as its exemplar the Chinese British writer and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo. It investigates how Guo utilizes her bilingualism to construct and negotiate her creative agency, especially when dealing with the political and commercial forces imposed on diasporic authors. Through engaging with Rebecca Walkowitz’s idea of world literature as being “born translated,” I point out that the translational should not be limited to the thematic and representational arrangements internal to a given text. Instead, translation as movements between linguistic systems and media forms can generate multiple
versions of a text, to the point that such translational multiplicity fundamentally challenges its supposed singularity. This argument is demonstrated with Guo’s self-translation of the stories of Fenfang and her filmic adaptation of the novel UFO in Her Eyes. Through these examples of what I call “translational rebirths,” I demonstrate the importance of paratextual details and intertextual connections between clusters of an author’s creative output for the interpretation and appreciation of l’oeuvre d’un auteur instead of une oeuvre d’art. This case study also shows the need for the academic debates on world literature to go beyond the singularity of texts and evaluative criteria of worldliness based on this assumption, so that the discipline can realize its full potential in accommodating multilingual transnational authors like Guo.


World Literature, Xiaolu Guo, Bilingualism, Minor Literature, Translational

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)