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Chinese fiction contributes to record sales figure in the UK
2019-03-22 
Award-winning science fiction work The Three-Body Problem by Chinese author Liu Cixin has been translated into several languages, including English, German and Korean. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

UK readers set a new record in translated fiction sales in 2018, with Chinese science-fiction and fantasy novels contributing to the surge.

The Guardian in an article on March 6 highlighted the "extreme growth" in translated literary fiction sales, up 20 percent in 2018 compared with the previous year.

"Chinese science-fiction and fantasy novels such as Liu Cixin's The Three-Body Problem and Jin Yong's A Hero Born sold strongly," said the British daily newspaper.

According to annual research commissioned by the Man Booker International (MBI) prize, total sales of translated fiction in the UK increased last year by 5.5 percent, amounting to a value of 184m yuan (£20.7m) – the highest figure since the research was first conducted in 2001.

A Hero Born, the first volume in Chinese wuxia novelist Louis Cha's Legends of the Condor Heroes series, was first published in English last February. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

"Reading fiction is one of the best ways we have of putting ourselves in other people's shoes. The rise in sales of translated fiction shows how hungry British readers are for terrific writing from other countries," said Fiammetta Rocco, administrator of the MBI prize.

"This is really exciting news, and welcome confirmation that publishers have responded to the proven popularity and marketability of translated literature," said Charlotte Collins, co-chair of the UK's Translators Association.

Anna Holmwood, translator of wuxia novel A Hero Born by Louis Cha. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Anna Holmwood, translator of A Hero Born, sees it as a sign of the UK's market shifting. She said the success of books by Louis Cha and Liu Cixin reflects British readers' growing appetite for new stories outside the English-speaking world.

Publishers need to be more willing to introduce fresh works to readers, even if it means taking more of a risk.

"I think British readers are more open-minded because of the diversified culture in the UK," Holmwood said.

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