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Online novels win top awards

By Yang Yang | China Daily | Updated: 2023-03-29 06:05
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International winners of WSA 2022, a competition for authors of online novels on WebNovel, an international portal of China Literature company, attend the award ceremony held in Hong Kong this month. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Three online novels created by writers from Pakistan, India and Thailand won the top prize at the WebNovel Spirity Awards 2022 held in Hong Kong this month, beating 90,000 competitors in the three language sections of English, Indonesian and Thai.

WebNovel, the international portal of China Literature company, a pioneer in the online literature market — one of the largest online literature platforms — was launched in May 2017 to promote translations of Chinese online novels. In April 2018, WebNovel started receiving original works by overseas writers.

By the end of last year, Web-Novel had run translations of about 2,900 Chinese online novels, according to a report recently co-released by China Literature and Global Times Research Center. The platform also witnessed the entrance of 340,000 overseas online writers who created 500,000 works. Over four years, the number of visiting users on WebNovel increased by 8.5 times to about 170 million.

Launched in 2018 and originally aimed at English-language writers, the WebNovel Spirity Awards, or WSA, started receiving works in Indonesian and Thai last year.

The three top winners for 2022 are Leveling Endlessly With the Strongest System by Crimson_ink from Pakistan, Allure of the Night by ash_knight17 from India and This Love Doesn't Have Long Beans by Ninepinta from Thailand.

The main goal of the awards is to nurture new overseas writers. The report shows that since 2018, the number of overseas writers has increased at a compound rate of 130 percent, with people born after 2000 accounting for 37.5 percent and people born between 1995 and 2000 29.5 percent.

The average age of winners of the WSA 2022 was 27, and more than 40 percent of the winning writers published their first novel on the platform. The top five countries with the largest number of writers on the platform were the United States, India, the Philippines, Indonesia and Britain.

The original works on the platform can be divided into 15 categories and over 100 subcategories according to themes such as Western or Eastern fantasy, science fiction, urban life or video games.

In the original works, one can find the influence of Chinese online literature, since the tags of half the top 10 original works include the keywords of popular Chinese online literature modes, such as "reincarnation", "system", and "immortality cultivation".For example, the gold prizewinner Leveling Endlessly With the Strongest System combines the elements of the "reincarnation "and "system" modes.

Readers on WebNovel come from more than 200 countries and regions around the world, the report shows. The biggest reader group comes from the US and the fastest growing is from Pakistan. Readers born after 1995 account for 75 percent of the total.

The translated versions of the 2,900 Chinese online novels include various themes such as immortals, martial arts, fantasy, urban life and science fiction.

By reading online Chinese literature, overseas readers can get a better idea of traditional Chinese culture and contemporary China. Last year, words related to "China" appeared over 150,000 times in readers' comments on the platform. Other most-mentioned words in the comments include Taoism, gourmet food, martial arts, tea art and panda. The most-mentioned five Chinese cities are Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macao and Hangzhou of Zhejiang province.

Book cover of Full Marks Hidden Marriage: Pick up a Son, Get a Free Husband, one of the nine translated Chinese online novels viewed over 100 million times on the portal. [Photo provided to China Daily]

By the end of last year, nine translations of Chinese online novels had been viewed more than 100 million times on Web-Novel. The novel, Full Marks Hidden Marriage: Pick up a Son, Get a Free Husband, by Jiongjiongyouyao — a tale that describes perseverant, independent modern women — tops the most-read Chinese online novels, having been viewed more than 400 million times.

"No matter written in which language, stories can carry dreams, transcend cultural differences and win more readers, which is the charm of online literature," said Yang Chen, vice-president and chief editor of China Literature, at the award ceremony of the WSA 2022.

Now in China, online literature has become one of the pillar sources of cultural industry. Online novels have been adapted into audiobooks, cartoons, TV series, films, video games and creative cultural products. Similarly, China Literature has also been working on the adaptations of original works on WebNovel.

The report shows that 40 percent of the award-winning works are being adapted into audiobooks, cartoons, films or TV series, with collaborative teams mainly from the US, Britain, India, South Korea and Thailand.

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