“Most Influential” Chinese Literature in Translation: 2014 Ranking by International Library Purchases

A list of this year’s 20 so-called “most influential” Chinese literary works in translation has been published by Xi’an Daily (西安日报), and widely republished on the Chinese Internet. What follows are a few factoids I’ve gleaned from this version (影响力最大) at Chinanews.com. The full top 20 for 2014 can be found in Chinese here.

The methodology: a thorough search of Online Computer Library Center Inc., which features data covering 470 languages 470 libraries from over 20,000 libraries located in 112 countries. In other words, the ranking is based on 2014 purchases of translated Chinese literature by libraries worldwide. From the list, however, it seems that only English-language editions have been included, so the “most influential” tag is a tad inflated!

By the Numbers: Purchasing Librairies

  • 686: Decoded (解密), Mai Jia (translated by Olivia Milburn)
  • 443: Boy in the Twilight: Stories of the Hidden China (黄昏里的男孩), Yu Hua (translated by Alan Barr)
  • 350: The Man with the Compound Eyes (复眼人),Wu Ming-Yi (translated by Darryl Sterk)

  • 214: Three-body Problem (三体), Liu Cixin (translated by Ken Liu)
  • 214: I am China, Guo Xiaolu (US edition. I believe the original was in English)
  • 123: Last Words from Montmartre (蒙马特遗书), Qiu Miaojin (translated by Ari Larissa Heinrich)
  • 103: The Last Lover (最后一个情人), Can Xue (translated by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen)
  • 74: I am China, Guo Xiaolu (UK edition. I believe the original was in English)
  • 65: Unbearable Dreamworld of Champa the Driver (裸命), Chan Koonchung (translated by Nicky Harman)
  • 58: Rhapsody in Black (黑色狂想曲), Jidi Majia (translated by Denis Mair)
  • 57: Ming’s Adventure in the Forbidden City: A Story in English and Chinese (紫禁城里的冒险), Li Jian (translated by Yijin Wert)
  • 55: Mirage (蜃楼志), 庾岭劳人 (translated by Patrick Hanan)
  • 54: Derangements of My Contemporaries: Miscellaneous Notes (李商隐), Li Shangyin (translated by Chloe Garcia-roberts)
  • 47: The Bathing Women (大浴女), Tie Ning (translated by Hongling Zhang and Jason Sommer)
  • 41: The Dark Road (暗街), Ma Jian (translated by Flora Drew)
  • 39: The Three Kingdoms, Vol II (三国演义), Luo Guanzhong (translated by Yu Sumei)
  • 38: Death Fugue (死亡赋格), Sheng Keyi (translated by Shelly Bryant)
  • 36: Salsa, Hsia Yü (translated by Steve Bradbury)
  • 36: Frogs (蛙), Mo Yan (translated by Howard Goldblatt)
  • 32: Something Crosses my Mind  (有什么在我心里一过), Wang Xiaoni (translated by Eleanor Goodman)

Dec 25 update: For reactions in China to this list, see Critics Diss “Most Influential” Translated Chinese Fiction, Caution Writers to Target their Compatriots


  1. 57: ? (紫禁城里的冒险), Li Da (translated by) should be Li Jian, Ming’s Adventure in the Forbidden City: A Story in English and Chinese. 42 pages only.

    55: ? (蜃楼志), 庚岭劳人 (translated by ?) 應該是庾岭劳人, Mirage, tr by Patrick Hanan

    54: Li Shangyin Collected Poems (李商隐), Li Shangyin 應該是Derangements of My Contemporaries: Miscellaneous Notes (New Directions Poetry Pamphlet), tr by Chloe Garcia-roberts

    39: The Three Kingdoms, Vol II (三国演义), a new complete translation done by Yu Sumei.

  2. @S Many thanks! I’ve incorporated your additions and corrections.

  3. Materials in 470 languages, not 470 libraries. The OCLC database contains thousands of libraries.

  4. @Anna Yes, indeed. The Chinese article states (470多种语言、两万多家图书馆), the OCLC database includes info on “more than 470 languages, and more than 20,000 libraries). I’ve changed the text above now. Many thanks for catching my big errors.

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