China: Rich-list rankings blur the reality for many of China’s authors

Rankings create false impression many writers are being paid big royalties, but they’re distorted by celebrities’ earnings: Mandy Zuo in SCMP

Mo YanEvery year, a ranking of the best-paid authors on the mainland is seized upon by the media and other social observers as misleading and wrong-headed, even as they endlessly parse and compare the names and numbers.

But the Writers Rich List, compiled by the reporter Wu Huaiyao and published by West China City News, is useful as it focuses attention, if only briefly, on the state of Chinese literature in a society that increasingly devalues the profession.

Online writer Jiang Nan came in first this year, earning just over 25 million yuan (HK$31 million) in royalties. Nobel laureate Mo Yan was a close second, taking in 24 million yuan. Children’s author Zheng Yuanjie was third, at 18 million yuan.

In all, 60 people were on this year’s list, spanning novelists, online writers, television anchors and even film directors – a collection too diverse in the eyes of some.

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