While Harry Potter and Lord of the
Rings exert great influence on Chinese readers, modern Chinese
literary works have seen a prolonged slump in the global
"Last year, while in Japan, I was disappointed to find there was
little Chinese literature on the country's bookshelves," said Bai
Ye, literary researcher and critic from Chinese Academy of Social
Bai made the remark at a Publication Brainstorm of
Chinese Literature on August 31, part of the Beijing International
Book Fair, which started a few days ago.
"You know the works of Annie Baby's, which have
been introduced overseas in recent years, can hardly represent
China's modern literary standard," said Bai. Annie Baby is the
penname of a female Chinese author whose melancholy love stories
feature a lot of sexually explicit content.
Nie Zhenning, president of the China Publishing
Group, echoed Bai's viewpoint: "The publishing industry in China is
lacking talented brokers who are competent in promoting the right
literary works across the world," said Nie. China publishes 1,000
works of literary fiction every year, which poses a challenge for
brokers who must make careful choices about the books they
Yet the training of qualified book agents takes
time. Pan Kaixiong, vice president of People’s Literature
Publishing House, said: "It takes years to train professional book
brokers nationwide. They need to have a clear picture of the
country’s literary development as well as a sound knowledge of
Although Chinese literature remains rare in the
world market, overseas publishers are showing increased interest in
Chinese works, according to Toby Eady, president of Toby Eady
Associates Ltd, who entered China’s book market 25 yeas ago.
The problem for the promotion of Chinese literature
lies in the communication between different languages, and western
readers won’t read bad translations, according to Eady.
But Pan said translation is not a problem that can
simply be solved by languages. "Translation is not only a change of
languages but also the change of culture and logic. China is badly
in need of professional literary translators who are expert in both
Chinese and foreign cultures."
"But we need to train publishing brokers first,"
Nie argued. "The country has a lot of translators who need brokers
to expand the literary market so that they may secure their
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Wu Jin, August 31,