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Girl, 11, Wins Global Book Deal
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A fantasy novel about tribes of warring birds, written by a gifted 11-year-old girl who lives in Hainan, China's southern-most province, is to be published worldwide in English.

The young author, Nancy Yi Fan, won the extraordinary opportunity by simply emailing her manuscript to the Chief Executive of HarperCollins, Jane Friedman, at the publisher's New York office.

Fan has since been hailed as a prodigy by her editors, who will use her book in a new attempt to establish the firm in China. Her story, Swordbird, is an epic allegory about the struggle for peace and will be printed in China in the new year.

Those who have seen it talk about it as the product of a mind as imaginative as some of the greatest names in children's writing.

Fan wrote the novel in response to learning of the war on terror, and it is described as "an action-packed tale of birds at war," set in the once-peaceful Stone-Run Forest.

Born in Beijing in 1993, Fan lived in New York with her parents from the age of seven, graduating "with excellence" from elementary school in 2004. When she was in sixth grade, at the age of 11, she was taught about terrorism and the events of 9/11. That night, Fan explains, she had a startling dream all about birds at war and the next day she started writing Swordbird in her bedroom as a way of trying to convey her worries about violence in the world.

She now lives back in China, on the beautiful Hainan Island with her parents and their three pet birds. The girl, now 13, is a compulsive writer and reader who spends most of her time in the library, but she also loves bird-watching and martial arts.

This summer HarperCollins announced it would be publishing a series of Chinese works overseas, as well as bringing out Swordbird in the United States, the UK and China.

(China Daily September 25, 2006)

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