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Chinese classic debuts at London Book Fair

By WANG MINGJIE in London | China Daily | Updated: 2023-04-21 07:50
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A publisher flips through an introductory book on A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains and the history of ancient Chinese landscape paintings. The book has been published in Chinese, English and French. COURTESY OF CHINA YOUTH PRESS INTERNATIONAL

Tony Caplin, general manager of New Classic Press, the publisher of the English version of the book, said: "The novel provides readers with an encyclopedic glimpse into the life of rural China, through the eyes of an aging, bedridden midwife named Qiao Damei.

"The book spans China's past century of social upheavals, from the end of the imperial era, through the age of republicanism, and into the modern age. Despite the focal story taking place through the span of a single day and night, the midwife Qiao Damei's experiences throughout her lifetime and the stories she tells are the stuff of epics."

The book has already received many accolades in China, including the best book of the year in 2021, being ranked No 1 in the 2020 fiction category, and making it onto the 2020 annual "golden list of novels".

"These awards serve as a testament to the book's literary excellence and the author's immense talent," Caplin said.

Jin Guohua, deputy general manager of Phoenix Publishing and Media Group, one of the biggest publishing companies in China and the parent company of the novel's Chinese publisher, said: "This masterpiece has made a significant impact on the literature community and gained widespread attention and praise from readers. It is also being translated into several other languages, in addition to English, and will soon be available to a wider audience worldwide.

"We sincerely hope that through the publication of these books in different languages, more readers will immerse themselves in the stories of true China and gain a comprehensive understanding of China and its people today. We also look forward to introducing excellent foreign books, presenting them to the majority of Chinese readers, building bridges for cultural exchanges between China and countries around the world."

Books such as the Dictionary of Chinese Cultural Knowledge and Business Chinese have also been exhibited, as has a children's picture book illustrated by the British Chinese illustrator Yu Rong called The Visible Sounds, which made a splash during a panel discussion at the book fair.

A Chinese culture and art book exhibition, entitled A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains, was part of this year's London Book Fair. The fair, which ran from Tuesday to Thursday, presented more than 100 books on ancient and modern Chinese art, design and paintings and highlighted the use of blue-green hues in depicting landscapes.

A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains is one of the most famous paintings in Chinese history for its sweeping scale, rich colors and vivid details. Measuring 51.5 centimeters by 11.9 meters, the masterpiece was the only extant piece by prodigy artist Wang Ximeng who created it at age 17 during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). That period of time witnessed the flowering of literature and art and has left many poems and paintings as a legacy.

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