Chinese Fiction Is Hot

A Nobel prize pits the focus on Chinese writers
Shanghai Book City Photograph by Karl Johaentges/Getty Images

On the evening the Nobel Prize committee crowned magical-realist novelist Mo Yan as the first laureate living in China (outside a prison), Alice Xin Liu, managing editor of Pathlight, a new magazine of Chinese literature translated into English, was downing homemade ale at Vine Leaf, a Beijing bar. Her smartphone lit up with ecstatic text messages. “But I wasn’t really surprised,” she said. “Mo Yan’s name had been floated for a while, and in the past year the international buzz around Chinese literature has grown really loud. It felt like it was time.” Liu, who is 26, spent her early childhood in Beijing before moving to the U.K. at age 7 and then back to China after college—just in time to witness the blossoming of interest in Chinese authors.

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