The 14th Beijing International Book Fair marked a new chapter in
the popularity of Chinese literature abroad.
"Books about Chinese culture have always been popular in South
Korea," says Choi Jei-Chirl, head of Shinwon Agency from the
Choi has introduced hundreds of Chinese books to readers in
South Korea over the past few years.
"Apart from literature, biographies, such as the ones about late
Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, are also welcomed by readers in my
country," says the agent, who also revealed that his company has
inked a couple of new deals at the book fair with Chinese
Penguin, the world's leading book publisher, took the fair as an
opportunity to announce that the English-language edition of Jiang
Rong's novel Wolf Totem (Lang Tuteng) is scheduled to hit
bookshelves in most English-speaking countries and regions in March
The publishing giant bought the overseas rights to the book from
the Changjiang Literature and Arts Publishing House, which is based
in Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei Province.
A best-selling work in China - with at least 2 million copies
sold over the past three years - Wolf Totem reportedly enchanted
Italian readers when it was released in the Italian language late
last year. At least 40,000 copies have been sold in Italy so far,
says Peter Field, chairman of Penguin Asia.
Field hopes the English edition will also be such a great
success. "The translation is very important for the success of this
book outside China," says Field.
In order to ensure nothing was lost in translation, the company
invited Howard Goldblatt, who is perhaps the most prolific and
best-known translator of Chinese literature into English, to take
on the job.
It took Goldblatt at least 18 months to complete the task, says
Field, who says the English edition is still going through the
"Wolf Totem is a wonderful book - very different from many other
Chinese novels. Besides the unique narrative style, it interests me
because of its strong flavor of Mongolian culture. And I believe
other Western readers will also find it interesting to read,"
explains general manager of Penguin China Jo Lusby, who can speak
and read Chinese.
Over the years, Penguin has introduced to English-language
readers several contemporary Chinese novels, including Fortress
Besieged (Weicheng) by Qian Zhongshu, Rice (Mi) by Su Tong, Red
Sorghum (Hong Gaoliang) by Mo Yan and Beijing Doll (Beijing Wawa)
by Chun Shu.
Many children's books and Chinese classics tailored for readers
in segmented markets are also found on the long list, Lusby
(China Daily September 4, 2007)