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2012/05/01

China's Publishing Export Deficit: "Not Many Chinese books That Have Legs” Plus Interview with Steve Bertrand!

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Steve Bertrand on Books: Wenguang Huang by tvnportal

"Having lived for twenty years in the U.S., where one sometimes has to dig around the shelves to find a foreign translation book in the big chain stores, I was pleasantly surprised. It was also encouraging to learn that people in China could have access to Western political, social and pop cultures, despite the fact that the government restricts its own writers’ free speech and tightly controls the news and publishing industry. At the same time, it is also lamentable that only a few works by Chinese writers have made it to the West. The new superpower might enjoy a large trade surplus with many Western countries, but its book industry faces a huge deficit.

While restrictions on freedom of speech might be an important factor that stifled writers’ creativity, a literary critic in Shanghai attributed it to the rising consumerism in Chinese society. “Chinese writers are becoming more commercially savvy than their counterparts in any capitalist countries. Fiction writing, namely novels and poetry, which are supposed to reflect the universal human conditions, have turned into fast-produced superficial products laden with vulgarities and propaganda.” Consequentially, domestic readers are flocking to translations and foreign publishers find them unfit to publish, despite their strong interest.

The only solution to the deficit problem is for the government to create a free environment that encourages creativity, and direct its investment toward the discovery of new writers and to the creation of refreshing and high quality content that transcends cultures and ideologies."


China's Publishing Export Deficit | Publishing Perspectives:

By Wenguang Huang  who grew up in northern China, is a Chicago-based writer and translator. His writing has appeared in The Paris Review, Harper’s, The Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and the Asia Literary Review. He is the English translator of Liao Yiwu’s The Corpse Walker and God Is Red and Yang Xianhui’s Woman from Shanghai.


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