China's gongfu and fantasy web fiction becomes hot in US

With a black Chinese dragon blazing across the top of its homepage, Wuxiaworld.com now has seven completed translations of Chinese fantasy and martial arts web fiction.
With a black Chinese dragon blazing across the top of its homepage, Wuxiaworld.com now has seven completed translations of Chinese fantasy and martial arts web fiction. PHOTO: WUXIAWORLD/FACEBOOK

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Recently a two-year-old website, Wuxiaworld.com, surprised many Chinese people by its great popularity in the United States.

The website is a platform for sharing English versions of Chinese gongfu and fantasy online novels translated by Chinese martial arts lovers.

According to data from Alexa, the website ranked 1,525 in the world and 986 in the US, with more than 3 million daily page views, 241,211 daily unique visitors, and 2,475,861 monthly unique visitors.

With a black Chinese dragon blazing across the top of its homepage, Wuxiaworld.com now has seven completed translations of Chinese fantasy and martial arts web fiction.

Thirty-year-old Lai Jingping, whose online username is RWX, the original founder of the website, is a faithful reader of Chinese martial arts novels.

As he immigrated with his parents to the US from Chengdu in Sichuan province when he was three, RWX speaks only a little Chinese at home and knew little of Chinese characters. The Chinese he first learned is Sichuan dialect that sounds a bit different from Mandarin.

The 1995 TV series, Return Of The Condor Heroes, based on Louis Cha's novel, aroused RWX's curiosity about Chinese. And in 2004, he began to study Chinese at the University of California, Berkeley.

RWX first tried to translate Louis Cha's works by himself, for English versions of Chinese gongfu novels were rare and very expensive in the US.

In 2014, one of his friends from Vietnam introduced him to Chinese fantasy and martial arts web fiction.

"It was difficult to buy Chinese contemporary novels in America. And traditional Chinese culture is too complex for American people to understand. However online fantasy web novels about Chinese gongfu are easier to understand," RWX said.

The first Chinese online fantasy novel he read was Stellar Transformations, and he translated another work by the same author, Coiling Dragon.

"Our website is more like a translation platform. Now we have had 20 to 30 projects and each project is charged by a team of seven to eight translators. Some teams only have one translator, such as the one for the novel, I Shall Seal The Heavens," RWX said.

RWX said that Western readers are more interested in Chinese online novels about history, fantasy, gongfu and time-travel rather than romances.

At first, their team would get authorization from online writers before translating a work, and later found literature websites owned the authorisation rather the creators.

Wuxiaworld.com recently launched a cooperative agreement with Qidian.com, the first Chinese Internet literature website.

Now there are about 20 active Chinese-to-English translation groups consisting of ethnic Chinese and Chinese learners from around the world.