Author：Verbena C. W，Elaine Yang
In November 2012, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2″ arrived in a fiery passion, and thanks to an income of US$17.4 million, it stood for three weeks straight as crowned queen of the North American box office. In Mainland China, audiences have been waiting eagerly for this movie to hit the cinemas, and many of them have even purchased the Chinese translations of the “Twilight Saga” novels for the first time by way of quenching their thirst for the next movie to come out. Back in 2010, Stephenie Meyer, author of the “Twilight Saga,” rose to fifth place in China’s list of most wealthy overseas authors with her annual income of RMB 12 million, continuing the legacy of J.K Rowling and her “Harry Potter” books to become yet another bestselling Western female author whose works have done exceedingly well in China.
Nowadays, the rise of women writers, both from China and abroad, is fast becoming an inevitable trend. Their novels are usually written with a more delicate tone that those of their male counterparts, and this combined with the deep emotional journeys has won the hearts and devotion of a vast female readership. Especially true in China, the relatively simple structures of female-authored novels often makes them more easily published and adapted into screenplays. However, at variance with the majority of European and American lady writers’ having written in the fantasy genre, the typical bestselling female author in China tends to make a name for herself through the creation of what pretty much are pure romance novels, and Tong Hua is a prime example of that.
From 2006 to 2007, Tong Hua published three novels, including “Scarlet Heart,” all of which were set in ancient China. Her language seems plain and unadorned, but the stories are real page-turners. Some readers laud the romance present in her novels as being like a “slow-burning fire.” In addition, the heroines of her novels tend to be optimistic and cheerful women whose values include the right to an independent career and equality in love, values which sit well with contemporary Chinese women. After “Sacred Heart” was made into a television series in 2011, another of her novels, “Ballad of the Desert,” was also adopted into a TV drama, and the shooting for it began in March of 2012. “Ballad of the Desert” tells a story set in Han Dynasty China of a wolf woman whose life is full of bizarre experiences, and who gets caught up in the emotional entanglements of a generation of famous generals and a miracle-working doctor. The show will be aired some time in 2013.
Besides the female authors, as represented by Tong Hua, who are adept at writing stories set in ancient China, another group of Chinese bestselling female authors remain committed to the creation of modern urban romance novels. Of these, one cannot fail to mention Rao Xueman, whose book sales earned her status as one of China’s Top 10 most successful authors for three years running between 2007 and 2009, and whose earnings from royalties have exceeded RMB 8 million. Rao Xueman excels at epic descriptions of a young girl’s journey through adolescent love, and her words always strike a chord in the hearts of young readers, both male and female. She has been nicknamed the “intimate big sister” for schoolboys and schoolgirls. One of her masterpieces, “Left Ear,” delivers a vivid portrayal of characters with totally different personality traits, and creates amazing tension with her language to expertly describe the trials and tribulations of contemporary young love.
Over the past couple of years, a budding young Y-generation author named Di’An has risen rapidly to fame and challenged Rao Xueman for her crown. Perhaps because Di’An was born into a literary family, or because of her time studying abroad in France, the book that put her squarely on the literature scene, “Ashes to Ashes,” also about young love between high school students, was written more sincerely and with a greater depth of thought than the are the works of the vast majority of authors her age. Although not nearly as productive as Rao Xueman, on an average year Di’An is able to put out quite a few novels. However, her recent publication, “Memory in the City of Dragon,” contains more fantasy elements than did her previous works, and its soulful quality has attracted an enormous readership, landing her in the Top 10 list of China’s richest authors in both 2010 and 2011. And Chinese readers look forward to even more female authors who can break past the limitations of romance as a subject matter and take up the gauntlet of further genres to bring their skills to bear, that they may “let a hundred flowers bloom.”