"It is my destiny to take the road to become a translator," said Qin Lan, a Japanese-language translator and researcher with the Institute of Foreign Literature, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. She is also an editor for the reputed journal World Literature, which came into being in 1953.
Back in high school, Qin wished to be a judge. In her college application, she signed for China University of Political Science and Law. However, her teacher suggested she pursue literature and helped to shape Qin's future.
"That might have been a turning point for me," she said. She ended up as a student in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature in Northeast Normal University.
After college graduation in 1985, she found a job as an editor for the Higher Education Publishing House in Beijing. In 1992 she took a three-month leave to accompany her husband to Japan where he was studying Japanese history after winning a scholarship from the Japanese Government.
"Unexpectedly, I had stayed in Japan for almost 12 years: quitting my job in China, obtaining a master's and doctoral degree from two universities and working as a university teacher for Chinese literature for five years until returning to China in 2004," Qin told Beijing Review.
"My career as a literature translator began with the launch of a new Chinese-Japanese literature magazine The Blue," Qin recalled. It was autumn 1999 in Japan when a friend of her husband came to visit them. Both Li and her husband were literature fans and became good friends at the university.
After a long night of talking they decided to start a literature magazine publishing original and translated works both in Chinese and Japanese, serving as a bridge connecting the literature of the two countries. The first issue came out in July 2000, launching Qin's translation career as one of the main editors.
"I found great enjoyment in the process of solving the translation difficulties," said Qin. So far she has translated works by a dozen Japanese writers, including Kenzaburo Oe and Yukio Mishima.