Bestsellers Wolf Totem, by Jiang Rong, English, Paperback, 2008 Chinese Fiction Books
Wolf Totem is a semi-autobiographical novel about the experiences of a young student from Beijing who finds himself sent down to the countryside of Inner Mongolia in 1967, at the height of China's Cultural Revolution. The author, Lü Jiamin, wrote the book under the pseudonym Jiang Rong; his true identity did not become publicly known until several years after the book's publication.
Wolf Totem exhibited strong sales almost immediately after its release, selling 50, 000 copies in two weeks; pirated editions began to appear just five days after the book first appeared on shelves. As of March 2006, it had sold over four million copies in China, and had also been broadcast in audiobook format in twelve parts during prime time on China Radio International. Despite the author's refusal to participate in any marketing activities, deals for adaptations of the novel into other media and translations into other languages have set various financial records. In August 2004, the Beijing Forbidden City Film Company purchased the movie rights to the novel for one million RMB; the Beijing Youth Daily described the movie version as China's highest-budget film as of 2005, and noted that the same special effects team which worked on The Lord of the Rings film trilogy had been contracted to work on the special effects for Wolf Totem. The production team are aiming to complete the film in time for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Jiang also released a children's edition of the book in July 2005, cut down from the 650 pages (540, 000 characters) of the original (including a 60-page, 50, 000 character "call to action" at the end) to roughly one-third the length. Overseas, Penguin Books paid US$100, 000 for the worldwide English rights, setting a record for the highest amount ever paid for the translation rights to a Chinese book; an unspecified Tokyo publisher paid US$300, 000 for the rights to publish a manga adaptation, and Bertelsmann bought the German-language rights for €20, 000. The author himself is looking forward to the translations; in his own words, he believes that "in the West they may understand [my book] more fully" than in China.
About the author:
Jiang Rong was born in Jiangsu in 1946. His father's job saw the family move to Beijing in 1957, graduating from the middle school attached to the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1966
His education cut short by events in China, the twenty-one-year-old Jiang volunteered to work in Inner Mongolia's East Ujimchin Banner in 1967, where he lived and labored with the native nomads until the age of thirty-three. He took with him two cases filled with Chinese translations of Western literary classics, and spent eleven years immersed in personal studies of Mongolian history, culture, and tradition. In particular, he developed a fascination for the mythologies surrounding the wolves of the grasslands, spending much of his leisure time learning the stories and raising an orphaned wolf cub. Following his return to Beijing in 1978, Jiang embarked on postgraduate studies in olitical science at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Jiang received a Masters degree in law in 1982, and assumed an academic position at a Beijing university.
Author Jiang Rong
Press Yangtze River Art and Literature Publishing House, Penguin Books
Publication Date Mar 2008
Page material gelatine plate paper
Chinese version: ISBN：7535427308
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