Bruce Hume’s take on China lit’s globalisation drive
China’s culture apparatchiks are getting serious about bringing Chinese-literature-in-translation to the masses near you. Here are 3 trends detailed in an article (作家 “走出去” 新谋略) reprinted from China Publishing and Media Daily:
More works from (familiar, *sigh*) high-profile authors
Sources in China’s export-oriented publishing sector say they feel more confident focusing on authors who have received prestigious domestic awards. Read more
Mai Jia (the pen name of Jiang Benhu) is one of China’s most popular authors, but he is still practically unknown in the west; this, his bestselling 2002 debut Decoded, is the first of his novels to be translated into English. It’s tempting to think of him as China’s answer to John le Carré. Having worked professionally alongside spies and codebreakers in his country’s secret services, Mai now channels those experiences into fiction that combines literary sophistication with commercial appeal. And like le Carré’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Decoded has also been adapted for television and film. (FT) Read more
The espionage novel Decoded has become the first contemporary Chinese fiction ever published by Penguin Classics, marking its entry into the mainstream of global literature.
The English edition of the work by Mai Jia debuted in 21 countries recently and is the first of Mai’s oeuvre of four books to be translated into English. Read more
Mai Jia, sometimes called the “Dan Brown” of Chinese literature, is a hit with readers in China. Now his debut novel “Decoded” is available in English in the U.S. for the first time. Anna Russell reports on Lunch Break. Photo: Li Xiaoliang.
Watch the video here
Mai Jia, a top-selling Chinese espionage novelist and former soldier, has been writing about secrets for years.
In his half-dozen novels, Mr. Mai, who has sold millions of books and won many Chinese literary awards, including the Mao Dun Literature Prize, describes intrigue at home that most Chinese, let alone non-Chinese, know nothing about. Read more
Decoded is the first opportunity for English readers to experience the work of Mai Jia, a bestselling novelist in his native China where he is also known through television and film adaptations of his books. Described as a forerunner of Chinese espionage fiction, Mai Jia apparently draws from his experiences rubbing shoulders with cryptologists and spies during a 17-year stint in the People’s Liberation Army intelligence unit. He also worked as a military propagandist before devoting himself to more transparent fiction.
Asian literature is rising fast on the international publishing scene. Anticipating this burgeoning demand, Kelly Falconer – former literary editor of the Asia Literary Review – founded the Asia Literary Agency earlier this year. Heading up the nascent group, which represents luminaries in the field throughout Asia, Falconer is constantly keeping tabs on the continent’s hottest writers.
According to her, the five Asian writers to watch are: British-Indian Bidisha, Ichi Batacan who is a Filipino writer in Singapore, Kim Young-ha of Korea, Mai Jia of China and Prajwal Parajuly of Sikkim.