Jamie Fisher

Jamie Fisher, a translator from Mandarin Chinese, has recently completed a novel.

The problem was Qwerty, not China, where moveable type predated Gutenberg by several centuries. But the typewriter was developed for the West by the West, during a period in which China was decidedly closed off, and by the time typewriters had become a common feature of commercial life, their form was relatively fixed. At the turn of the 20th century, the missionary inventors trying for a Siamese typewriter simply lopped off two letters of the Siamese alphabet, like Cinderella’s stepsisters severing the offending toe to make the foot fit the slipper.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences