The State of Chinese Popular Literature

By Carmen Comment

China Daily looks at a recent survey aimed at finding the country’s most popular authors, and the results – with several young pop fiction writers besting some of China’s literary masters – has reignited debate over the decadence of modern literature. Among the top 20 writers, three young pop novelists – Han Han, Guo Jingming and Anne Baby, all in their 20s – garnered more votes than some prominent literary figures.

Li Bo, vice-director of the Changjiang Literature & Arts Publishing House, said “The survey shows that popular literature is getting more attention than traditional literature in the reading market.” The attitude is not shared by Tsingua University professor Ge Fei. “The results would have been different if the survey had been confined to, say, Tsinghua University. The survey did not provide any indications of why certain writers were more popular than others.”

But the survey results were fine by Wang Xiongjun, a PhD at Peking University’s School of Government. “Instead of people quarreling over the credibility of such surveys, why don’t we talk about the tastes of contemporary readers. The fast pace of today’s lifestyles and swift dissemination of pop culture have an impact on readers’ preferences. They might prefer to read something closer to their own experiences rather than something that was written centuries ago.”