Chinese online literature blossoms with more diverse themes

Xinhua
"We saw a significant increase in realistic subjects reflecting people' s everyday lives in online literature this year."
Xinhua

Chinese online literature is shifting from a focus on pure fantasy to a kaleidoscope of themes, as suggested by a recently released official recommendation list.

A total of 24 pieces of online literature, including "The Road To Rejuvenation," "Fighter of Destiny," "Stay-at-home Mothers Go Forward" and "Candy Marriage" were featured in the list of recommendations jointly released by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) and China Writers Association (CWA), which have released similar lists for three consecutive years.

"We saw a significant increase in realistic subjects reflecting people' s everyday lives in online literature this year," said Chen Qirong, director of the CWA's online literature committee.

"The Road To Rejuvenation," for example, describes the tortuous course of the reform of state-owned enterprises, while "Stay-at-home Mothers Go Forward" features the real lives of urban women, and "Candy Marriage" shows youth viewpoints on love.

"Works of fantasy that are unrealistic or otherworldly no longer dominate online literature, as works are becoming increasingly diversified in terms of theme, content and style," Chen said.

"The First Intimate Contact," a tragic love story by Taiwan writer Cai Zhiheng, marked the beginning of the country's online literature industry in 1998.

According to the SAPPRFT, original online literature works released on 45 major Chinese websites numbered 16.47 million in 2017, up 2.34 million from 2016.

"Online literature has gradually become an important part of the digital publishing industry and online culture in China," said Xie Donghui, director of the digital publishing department of SAPPRFT.

"Our online literature must keep pace with the times, maintain good taste, and be acceptable to society," said Li Jingze, deputy director of CWA.

Despite the boom in Chinese online literature, excellent works are still lacking, according to Ouyang Youquan, from the College of Literature and Journalism at Central South University in Changsha, Hunan Province.

Online literature works that cater to the market and disregard society's values are still pervasive, experts said, noting that copycat plots and piracy are rife.

"Narrative patterns are not diversified enough, and many of the works cannot be seen as quality literature," said Yang Zao, associate researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"The authorities' recommendation will play an exemplary role in improvement of online literature," Ouyang said.

According to a report published by China Internet Network Information Center, readers of online literature totaled 353 million in June 2017, accounting for 46.9 percent of internet users in the country.

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