Chorus of approval for Han Han

20:32, January 22, 2010      

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The rivalry between best-selling writers Han Han (left) and Guo Jingming seems to be heating up. (Photo: China Daily)

China's best-selling writer Han Han announced the launch of Chorus of the Soloists this month and he'll be the magazine's editor-in-chief.

Though there is no specific date for the magazine's publication, it spices up the rivalry between Han and Shanghai-based Guo Jingming, another best-selling young writer.

Guo launched his fiction mook (magazine book) Top Novel in 2006, and sells 500,000 copies on average per issue, with the highest run of 700,000, said Guo in an interview with Moneyweek magazine.

Targeting teenage readers, Top Novel includes novels by Guo, Di An, Luo Luo and other young writers. The magazine topped the "Best 10 Chinese Fictional Journals" list in 2008 and 2009, following an online poll by a research organization from Tongji University.

Han revealed his plan for a literary magazine last May, triggering a heated discussion about the payment he planned to offer, from 250 to 2,000 yuan ($36-293) per 1,000 words, some 10-40 times higher than is usual.

Han says Chorus will be totally different from Guo's magazine.

"Apart from the fact that they're both printed on paper, there won't be any similarities between the two," said Han. He also said in an interview with Southern Metropolis Weekly that he and Guo are completely different - "like men and women".

Guo didn't comment on Han's remarks, but said "the market is open to the increase or fall of a magazine".

The two pop writers' rivalry has been long and heated. Han and Guo are roughly the same age, respectively, 28 and 27. They both kicked off their careers after winning the New Concept Writing Contest held by Meng Ya magazine and several leading universities. Han won it in 1999 and Guo in 2001, and both were high school students at the time.

Although their emergence triggered debates over the merits of the Chinese education system, they have since become icons of the post-80s generation.

Han's representative works include Triple Gates, Minus One Degree Centigrade, and Guo's are The City of Fantasies, Never Flowers in Never Dreams.

Han said that novels and essays by young authors Zhou Yunpeng and Luo Yonghao will be included in his debut issue.

But he advised readers not to expect too much: "Just regard it as a Zhiyin magazine (the Chinese equivalent of Reader's Digest)."

Han said he would like the magazine to be like free land for literary seeds to grow.

Han revealed in a recent blog that the publishing date of the first issue is still being decided.

"The flight is delayed, not due to mechanical troubles, but poor weather conditions," he said, ironically.

Culture critic and researcher Zhu Dake compares Han to painter/writer Chen Danqing, as they are both "independent and critical", and Guo to scholar Yu Qiuyu, who is "zealous in pursuit of honors".

"None of their discords are personal. Their differences are caused by divergent values, which reveals not only the differences between people born in the 1980s, but also a Chinese society in transition," Zhu said.

Besides Guo and Han, other young writers are joining the magazine business.

Under Shanda Literature Ltd, Rao Xueman, a writer born in the 1970s, launched [email protected] magazine earlier this month, aimed at teenage girls.

Zhu said the rush to print is partly due to the realization by publishers that these young writers are a lucrative business.

Source: China Daily

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