Readers in a flap
The country's most established literary magazine, Harvest, has caused quite a
stir with its spring-summer issue, for carrying a novel by Guo Jingming in its
Readers say the magazine has betrayed its standards by
including the work of the 27-year-old, who has been called an "image-obsessed"
pop idol by the New York Times, yet is one of China's most commercially
The Harvest Literary Bimonthly, founded by Chinese
writer Ba Jin (1904-2005) in 1957, has previously carried works by such literary
heavyweights as Lu Xun, Lao She, Guo Moruo, and Wang Shuo.
Guo, who won
the top prize in China's New Concept Writing Competition in 2001 and 2002, has a
huge fan base in the post-80s generation. In 2006, he launched his fiction mook
(magazine book) Top Novel, which sold 500,000 copies per issue on average, with
the highest print run of 700,000.
Harvest, on the other hand, sells
100,000 copies per issue.
Local media have described the inclusion of
Guo's novel as "pure literature bowing to commercialized stories". Gou's new
work in Harvest, Mark of the Cavalier, like Ice Fantasy published in 2003, is a
dramatic work of fiction filled with mythological stories, Chinese martial arts,
and plots common in Japanese animation works.
One review of Guo's novel,
by literary critic Gao Yuanbao of Fudan University says the young writer uses
too many fancy but unclear sentences, and his selection of words is primarily
intended to show off.
But critic Fu Yuehui from Shanghai Literature
says, "The story is more about growing up rather than a fantasy. Readers can
find themselves in the characters and that is why Guo's novel is successful."
Three days before the magazine came out on Monday, deputy chief editor
Zhong Hongming explained why Guo's work was chosen on Harvest's official blog.
"Harvest's mission and standards will never change Personally, I feel
the magazine can accommodate all kinds of literature. Our 'extended reading'
section is aimed at inspiring more discussion about text, content, and words, so
it is not limited to what is usually called serious literature," he wrote.
Editor-in-chief Cheng Yongxin says: "Literature should be tolerant of
all genres. Its borders are always changing. Guo's novel is unique in its use of
fancy expressions and unusual experiences, which is necessary for the magazine."
Guo updated his weibo (Chinese twitter) early on May 26, expressing
happiness that his work was appearing in Harvest.
"Harvest is the most
important literature magazine in the market. It is a big recognition for me that
my work is being published in it. I devoted a lot of time to creating it. I hope
it can reach various readers in different fields and of different ages," Guo
This is not the first time his works have appeared in serious
magazines. In 2009, his Tiny Times 2.0 was published in People's Literature,
which also caused a big stir among readers. The issue sold out within a month.
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