Chinese woman wins Hugo award

Chinese science-fiction author Hao Jingfang (above) with the Hugo Award for her book, Folding Beijing.
Chinese science-fiction author Hao Jingfang (above) with the Hugo Award for her book, Folding Beijing.PHOTO: HAO JINGFANG'S WEIBO

BEIJING • Science-fiction author Hao Jingfang became the first Chinese woman to win a Hugo Award for science fiction and fantasy works on Sunday, beating best-selling horror and fantasy writer Stephen King in the Best Novelette category.

The 32-year-old Tianjin native took the prize for Folding Beijing, depicting the Chinese capital as a city divided by social class.

It tells of the struggle of a father trying to send his daughter to school in futuristic Beijing, an allusion to the difficulties that some Chinese parents face in ensuring that their children receive a quality education. The story was translated by Ken Liu and published last year by online magazine Uncanny.

"I hope the real future will be brighter than my story," the post-1980s writer said at a ceremony held in Kansas City Convention Center.

She said she was not confident about winning and joked that she had been planning to attend the Hugo losers' party after the ceremony. "Sci-fi writers always consider all possibilities," she added.

She began writing science-fiction stories after graduating with a degree in physics from Tsinghua University in 2006. She went on to conduct macroeconomy research for her doctoral degree and, since 2013, has worked at the China Development Research Foundation.

Her win comes a year after Chinese writer Liu Cixin, 53, won a Hugo for Best Novel for his science- fiction bestseller, The Three-Body Problem, the first in a trilogy.

Liu, the first Asian to win a Hugo, told China Daily he believes the growing global acceptance of Chinese science-fiction stories is thanks to experienced translators such as Ken Liu, who promote Chinese works, and the stronger presence of Chinese culture as a whole.

He cited the success of Nobel laureate Mo Yan and Cao Wenxuan, who last Saturday became the first Chinese to win the Hans Christian Andersen Award for children's literature in New Zealand.

The Best Novel Hugo on Sunday went to American author N.K. Jemisin, 43, for The Fifth Season, about a planet undergoing a periodic and catastrophic season of apocalyptic climate change.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2016, with the headline 'Chinese woman wins Hugo award'. Print Edition | Subscribe