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The second sex

By Sun Shuangjie (Global Times)

09:11, September 10, 2012

British writer and Booker Prize winner A.S. Byatt (GT)

In the Chinese publishing industry there is a saying that if you win over the female readership, you have won the book market. This belief is borne out by facts. According to Li Yao, chief editor of the foreign literature department at Thinkingdom House in Beijing, of all Chinese readers of literature only 20 percent are male.

It's not just women readers who are shaping the publishing industry in China today - it is also, increasingly, women writers. In recent years the works of Victoria Hislop's The Island, Zadie Smith's White Teeth, Doris Lessing's The Summer Before the Dark, María Dueñas' The Time Between Seams and Alice Munro's Runaway have all been translated and enjoyed huge commercial success in China. And homegrown writers such as Annie Baobei, Liuliu, Wang Anyi, Chi Li, Eileen Chang and Echo Chan, are held in as high esteem as their Chinese male counterparts.

Two of these lauded novelists, British writer and Booker Prize winner A.S. Byatt, and the Chinese writer Wang Anyi (The Song of Everlasting Sorrow), who was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize last year, held a forum in Shanghai recently to discuss the current state of women and feminism in literature. The Global Times has picked some highlights of the Q and A session.

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