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  Penguin Buys Rights to Chinese Novel

The Straits Times (Singapore)
September 7, 2005 Wednesday


SHANGHAI - Call it the march of the Penguin.

The British publisher has purchased the English-language rights to China's bestselling novel The Wolf Totem for US$100,000 (S$168,000) - the biggest overseas book deal in China.

Jiang Rong's 2004 novel about the struggle for life on the Mongolian grasslands will appear in English from 2007, said his agent.

The tale, built around the lives of wolves, is told through the eyes of a student sent to work in Inner Mongolia during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution.

The sale marks a breakthrough in foreign interest in modern Chinese literature.

Most foreign translations of China's books deal with cultural studies, history, food or traditional arts and crafts, though there has been some interest in sensationalistic novels by a few young female writers.

In China, The Wolf Totem has sold more than a million copies and topped bestseller lists for months.

Critics have praised its exploration of the human-animal relationship and its accuracy, details and spiritual questioning.

Businessmen see its accounts of wolf packs' stalking and killing as a metaphor for survival and success in China's corporate world.

First-time author Jiang, 58, a Beijing University professor, lived in Inner Mongolia during the Cultural Revolution. He spent more than 30 years researching and writing the book. -- AP







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