I was just lamenting to my reading group recently about how the West only gets to see a certain type of fiction from the East. What I jokingly call "sad stories of Asian people" lit. I detest those, not because of its sad endings, but because they only show one side of our culture. I have deep suspicions of WHY they are the preferred lit that the West wants to see translated. But I shall keep my thoughts to myself as it could spark a comment war!
But, I digress, truth to be told Chinese fiction is incredibly rich in variety and history, and I'm just discovering it. Before, I could only access these tales via television, since these works are rarely translated to English. Fortunately, Jin Yong's classic books is finally being translated into English. (But the genre is wuxia, not xian xia, the topic of the blog post today)
Lucky for me, there are sites like Novel Updates which allow me to sample some of China's genre fiction.
I actually read a trilogy of a still-continuing series recently, yes, because I was in love with "Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms". These books are part of the "xian xia" genre, which are stories about immortal beings and magical creatures. It was REALLY refreshing to read a romance novel with such an exotic setting and premise!
So, I read first To the Sky Kingdom, then Pillow Book I & 2. My first xian xia novels and I'm in love with the genre! Which is ironic, because I actually DNFed Pillow Book 2 out of sheer frustration at one point, only to pick it up again because I was curious enough about the characters' fate to force myself to continue. (You can read my reviews of Pillow Book 1, Pillow Book 2, To the Sky Kingdom at my Goodreads page. You can get the Pillow Book novels at Hamster428's site while To The Sky Kingdom can be bought at Amazon.)
The No.1 reason for my ambivalence is author Tang Qi's writing style, which drove me insane. Her non-existent story structure, use of obsessive love-addicted females as antagonists and having characters info-dump at convenient moments grated on my nerves. Still, she's an amazing storyteller - her stories do grab. Now that she's been exposed as a plagiarist, I find myself doubtful about whether I should continue reading her. But I find my resolve shaken as I am mightily interested to see how my favourite characters Lian Song and Mo Yuan get their happily ever after.
Recently, I stumbled on a delightful little novella called Sansheng, Death Exists Not at the River of Oblivion - about a stone spirit, who falls in love with the God of War. She makes a pact with the said god - to try make him fall in love with her in his three lifetimes as a mortal. My review here and you can read the novella at Hamster's website.
Reading fan-translated xian xia novels is an interesting way to get yourself acquainted with to China genre fiction. Wouldn't it be awesome if more of these books get translated into English instead of "sad stories of Asian people" lit? Oh well, for now, I'll just depend on the hardworking fans.
Or brush up my half-past-six Mandarin until it's good enough to read web novels!