Guo Jingming, a 21-year-old college student, ranks 100 on the 2004 Forbes Chinese Celebrity list, showing his great talent as the most commercially successful young writer in China.
Although the name Guo Jingming may not be well known to the adult world, it has the magic power to get teenagers screaming and crying. Guo achieved overnight success in 2003 when his novel "City of Fantasy" launched on the Beijing's book market. Having sold over 1.5 million copies, the book ranks second on the best-seller list, just after the famous writer Chi Li's novel.
In his novel, Guo depicts a fancy world, where the affections of the characters are simple and pure, with no worldly intervention. He tries to convey his thoughts on human nature through his writings. The readers are very fond of the rich emotions portrayed in the story.
"City of Fantasy" has grasped a very special readership – teenagers. This particular group is the most important for the country's future, but has long been neglected by writers. So whether he did it consciously or not, Guo has carved himself a huge slice of this cake. Just as an editor from Sprout Magazine said, "It's quite reasonable that Guo has become so popular. If there was no Guo Jingming, somebody else would have appeared. Teenagers badly need spiritual material, and it's Guo that provides what they need to them at the right time."
Facing the teenagers' fanaticism, Guo says that fame is nothing to him. "Sometimes their craziness moves me, and it's my great pleasure to have them care for me so much. However, they regard me as a symbol of ideal and delivery. And they like me as the symbol, more than me as the author."
Guo wrote "City of Fantasy" when he was a grade-three student in senior high. Criticized for his immaturity, he voiced his objection: "You cannot judge one's work by his age, but by the text. If the text is mature, that's enough. It's not necessarily true that the work of a 16-year-old writer is less mature than that of a 60-year-old writer. We should promote the juvenile writing rather than object it."
Guo, now a grade-two student in Shanghai University, majors in film art and technology. Writing is neither a fixed task nor a career to him. "Like playing badminton, it's only one of my hobbies." He said, "I write to record my annual changes. Maybe there won't be so many changes in my future life, and then I will stop writing."
With the establishment of his own workshop "Island" on June this year, Guo is not
simply a writer any more. He is becoming more involved with the plane design, planning and management, and playbill making. "Doing these things is much more pleasing to me than simply writing books or over-valuing my reputation." he said. The first book in the "Island" series called "Debut" has now come out. "Debut", the homophone of "the first step" in Chinese language, delivers Guo's message that he hopes to grow up with his workshop together.
Guo now ranks the 93rd on the list of 2004 Forbes Chinese Celebrity 100, with assets worth US$1.6 million. Even the famous dancer Yang Liping ranks behind him. No doubt that he is the most successful commercial young writer in China.
(CRI September 10, 2004)