“You’re stepping on my shadow, please back off,” she said.

Sun Yisheng / Nicky Harman

Rank

By Eric Abrahamsen, published

Last Tuesday, the 11th, brought the publication of a 'China’s Strongest Writers' ranking, put out jointly by Sina’s book channel and something called the ‘ranking list website’. Specifically it seems to be the handiwork of a guy named Wu Huaiyao: as a related Phoenix TV article puts it, we’re seeing the creation of a “new internet career – the professional ranker.” It was Wu who brought us 'China’s Most Wealthy Writers' last year; that key issue out of the way, we’re now getting around to their actual strength as writers.

Much as the whole thing reeks of media circus, it’s still worth a look. Wu Huaiyao, no dummy, went to ten of China’s most influential literary critics to nominate the 58 writers who formed the basis of the list. Zhu Dake and Xie Youshun (who has a blog post about it) are probably best-known among the critics, and Zhu gets most of the media attention. He warns that strength does not equal influence does not equal earning power, and gets a few digs in at the inanity of last year’s wealthy writers ranking.

The list itself is here (scroll down past the Lord of the Rings splash page; it’s all in Chinese but there are pictures!). The top ten writers are as follows:

  • Mo Yan
  • Shi Tiesheng
  • Yu Hua
  • A-Lai
  • Jia Pingwa
  • Bei Cun
  • Su Tong
  • Bei Dao
  • Yan Lianke
  • Wang Anyi

All the usual suspects are up there, though I’ll admit I was a little surprised to see Shi Tiesheng take number two. I had heard about his killer style and tried reading 我与地坛 (Ditan and Me), but found it so sentimental that I lost interest. Maybe I’ll put aside my curmudgeonliness and try again. There are also few young writers (often referred as ‘post-80s’ writers), but Zhu Dake, after grumbling about the popularity of the pretty young things, concedes that it’s too early to tell. “It’s not realistic to compare their works to the best works of the older generation.”

Comments

# 1.   

If you're interested in reading Shi Tiesheng, I suggest you read 务虚笔记. In my opinion it's his magnum opus. Ditan and Me appeals to the Chinese, but it's really sentimental.

Paul, November 1, 2007, 5:49p.m.

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