Readers in a flap over new issue of revered magazine

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The country's most established literary magazine, Harvest, has caused quite a stir with its spring-summer issue, for carrying a novel by Guo Jingmingin in its Novels Special.

Readers say the magazine has betrayed its standards by including the work of the 27-year-old, who has been called an "image-obsessed" pop idol by the New York Times, yet is one of China's most commercially successful writers.

The Harvest Literary Bimonthly, founded by Chinese writer Ba Jin (1904-2005) in 1957, has previously carried works by such literary heavyweights as Lu Xun, Lao She, Guo Moruo, and Wang Shuo.

Guo, who won the top prize in China's New Concept Writing Competition in 2001 and 2002, has a huge fan base in the post-80s generation. In 2006, he launched his fiction mook (magazine book) Top Novel, which sold 500,000 copies per issue on average, with the highest print run of 700,000.

Harvest, on the other hand, sells 100,000 copies per issue.

Local media have described the inclusion of Guo's novel as "pure literature bowing to commercialized stories". Gou's new work in Harvest, Mark of the Cavalier, like Ice Fantasy published in 2003, is a dramatic work of fiction filled with mythological stories, Chinese martial arts, and plots common in Japanese animation works.

One review of Guo's novel, by literary critic Gao Yuanbao of Fudan University says the young writer uses too many fancy but unclear sentences, and his selection of words is primarily intended to show off.

But critic Fu Yuehui from Shanghai Literature says, "The story is more about growing up rather than a fantasy. Readers can find themselves in the characters and that is why Guo's novel is successful."

Three days before the magazine came out on Monday, deputy chief editor Zhong Hongming explained why Guo's work was chosen on Harvest's official blog.

"Harvest's mission and standards will never change Personally, I feel the magazine can accommodate all kinds of literature. Our 'extended reading' section is aimed at inspiring more discussion about text, content, and words, so it is not limited to what is usually called serious literature," he wrote.

Editor-in-chief Cheng Yongxin says: "Literature should be tolerant of all genres. Its borders are always changing. Guo's novel is unique in its use of fancy expressions and unusual experiences, which is necessary for the magazine."

Guo updated his weibo (Chinese twitter) early on May 26, expressing happiness that his work was appearing in Harvest.

"Harvest is the most important literature magazine in the market. It is a big recognition for me that my work is being published in it. I devoted a lot of time to creating it. I hope it can reach various readers in different fields and of different ages," Guo said.

This is not the first time his works have appeared in serious magazines. In 2009, his Tiny Times 2.0 was published in People's Literature, which also caused a big stir among readers. The issue sold out within a month.

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