China has created a literary prize for novels published online

Nobel Prize for Literature, Man Booker Prize, the Hugo Prize… Today, there are plenty of literary distinctions. It is in this continuity that China has created a new prize, devoted exclusively to online stories published within its large territory.

The annual award, co-hosted by the country’s media watchdog, supports literary works published on the internet that are judged to be positive in the eyes of the government. Indeed, all works in the competition must have a realistic frame and “ reflect real world issues and spread socialist energy “.

Heroes of the Internet: Gravitational Field is the big winner of the 2018 edition. This fiction is a thriller telling the story of a Chinese Internet startup that fights against a multinational conglomerate for market domination.

A readership focused more on fiction

Despite government efforts to steer public tastes, it seems many are unswayed. One of the most popular online novels of 2018 in China is a dark comedy novel titled Dawang Raoming.

The work tells the story of a boy with the magic power to soften the mood of those around him by the simple gift of speech. The virality of this creation sparked a lively discussion on popular publishing site Qidian.com, attracting more than a million readers to its official comment thread. A record number for the platform.

Going against the type of work endorsed by the Chinese authorities, the title still managed to escape the censors. Some aspiring writers on the Internet haven’t been so lucky.

This is the case of an anonymous author interviewed by the South China Morning Post, who had seen the number 64 of his story being deleted. His book went against the values ​​of the current government and the publication date of his issue, June 4, could have been taken as a revolutionary act. June 4, 1989 is world famous for its student protest in Tiananmen Square. It was on that day that a student got in the way of a war tank.

Online publishing: a flourishing market

Online publishing is a thriving industry in a country of over one billion people today. Indeed, at least half of Internet users in China consume Web documentation, according to a report published by the national agency China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).

The goal of Internet authors is thus to gather a large readership, make themselves known to the general public, and then sell adaptation rights to their works.

The country’s biggest box office and television hits are inspired by or adapted from novels published online. For example, Wukong – taken from an Internet novel dedicated to a legendary monkey – exceeded Despicable Me 3 and Transformers: The Last Knight at the Chinese box office in 2017.

Similarly, the online novel Ever Night was bought by Tencent and turned into a series and a smartphone game last year.

Tang Jia San Shao is one of the highest paid online novelists in China. He started his career writing fantasy stories around martial arts. However, the work that conquered the general Chinese public is a contemporary romance featuring a young (heterosexual) couple of entrepreneurs.

via Abacus News.

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China has created a literary prize for novels published online