Across China: Chinese online literature draws more overseas readers

Updated: October 9, 2021 Source:
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Chinese online literature has created a huge fanbase overseas, thanks to the diligence of writers and deepening of international communication.

Mad Snail, 34, is one of the most popular online fantasy novel writers in China. His novels, as well as their cartoon adaptations, have attracted many foreign fans.

"My novels have been translated into various foreign languages, such as English, French, Korean and Japanese, and I always receive comments begging for updates from foreign readers," he said.

He has ridden the wave of China's flourishing online literature market overseas.

By 2020, more than 10,000 online literary works had entered overseas markets and attracted over 100 million foreign readers, according to the China Writers Association (CWA).

The copyrights of over 4,000 physical books of Chinese online literature have been exported to countries and regions around the world, including the United States, Canada, Russia, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Republic of Korea and Japan.

Mad Snail started writing the fantasy novel "Tales of Demons and Gods" in 2014, telling the story of how a teenager strived to protect his homeland from an invasion of demons. In 2017, its intellectual property right was licensed to foreign countries.

"We used to think that traditional Chinese culture could hardly be understood and accepted by foreigners. However, it is considered a novelty overseas," said Mad Snail, adding that he usually incorporates Chinese cultural elements in his writing, such as Han clothing, kung fu and Confucianism.

Mad Snail believes that Chinese online literature is popular not only because of its mysterious Oriental elements, but its human touch including a love of peace, benevolence, mutual respect and self-motivation which can transcend boundaries.

Jiang Shengnan, author of "The Legend of Mi Yue," said that pulling at readers' heartstrings is the key to make Chinese online literature popular overseas regardless of cultural barriers.

"Readers used to enjoy stories about Cinderella-like protagonists, but now the themes have shifted to featuring women who are independent and striving," said Jiang, who focuses on writing historical novels with a realistic attitude.

"I think it's because of women's rising self-awareness, and my creations have reflected these changes," she said.

Jiang noted that with China's rapid development, overseas readers will have an increasing curiosity about this ancient Oriental country, which is a great opportunity for Chinese online writers.

"China will promote the exchange of ideas in the field of international online literature," said He Hong, deputy director of the online literature center of the CWA, adding that a big data center will also be established to increase the influence of online novels.

"In such a new era of opportunity, we should improve ourselves to tell good Chinese stories and help people get to know more about Chinese culture," said Mad Snail.

Editor: Tian Shenyoujia