After years of development, Chinese online literature has gained popularity among foreign readers, who are fascinated by the charm and cultural elements concealed within the unique works.
According to statistics from Novelupdates.com, a website that translates popular Asian novels for Western readers, Chinese web novels have created a reading frenzy among foreign readers. Among the site's top 10 most popular web novels, five were written by Chinese authors.
Chinese web novels have also been prevailing on other websites and forums, attracting a large number of foreign readers. Founded in December 2014, Wuxiaworld.com is the largest Chinese web novel translation forum in the world, boasting over 3.5 million page views each day. Statistics from Alexa Internet show that the website now ranks 995th in the US, with 28.7 percent of its visitors from the US.
Many foreign readers say they have become hooked on Chinese web novels thanks to the novels' strong, imaginative plots, which include discussions of reincarnation, body tempering and Chinese alchemy. Wuxia, meanwhile, features stories of martial arts and magical powers.
"I am a huge fan of Chinese Wuxia novels. The martial arts hero themes and Chinese traditional cultural elements really intrigue me. Plus, the world depicted in Chinese web novels is beyond Western readers' imaginations, which is also very attractive," Vegard Vagslid, a Norwegian student, told People Daily Online.
In addition to readers, the web novels have also inspired some foreign writers to create their own versions of Wuxia novels. A new book by Tina Lynge, "Riluo City," "was inspired by popular genres of Chinese web novels" and has garnered 66 comments and a score of 4 out of 5 on Amazon.
"I think China is ahead of most countries in terms of web novels, as online literature in China has seen explosive development in the past decade, leading to the rapid growth of web novel sites and high-quality work," said Li Li (pseudonym), a web novel writer.
According to a report released by China Internet Network Information Center in January, the user scale of Internet literature was 297 million in China in 2015, accounting for 43.1 percent of all users and representing a year-on-year growth of 2.89 million. Internet literature has received a great deal of attention from Internet giants in the past year, with Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba rushing to establish their own departments dedicated to Internet literature.
"Some may dismiss web novels as junk without any deep meaning, but I think it's an emerging industry with unique charm, offering the public easy and free access to entertainment. That is to say, web novels may serve as a good channel to promote Chinese pop culture," Li added.