Some surprises from International Book Day Survey, PRC
(surveys include published books and journals and newspaper reading, yes/no)
1. PRC has by far the lowest “book/print consumption” level in developed Asia and “the cultured West” (France, Jewish, US). Highest in Asia are: Korea and Japan: Mainly of course because its “non-urban” demographic remains high (about 50% in 2012; as recently as 2010, 47%; [CIA World Fact Book for (*stat year) 2010]; contrast S. Korea, 17%, France 15%. But Japan (as no. 1) still has an ex-/non-urban population of 30%! Some of the (relative) slack is because these surveys probably include on-line books: for the PRC 40.3% of 76.3% total readership rate, but a very low level in the “literate” world: the library of available on-line material is relatively thin and (in my experience) much of it expensive.
2. As of end-2012, Mo Yan was the most “popular” writer in the PRC, leading Louis Cha Leung-yung (HK wuxia) and Lu Xun
3. But the “old” romances 《红楼梦》、《三国演义》、《水浒传》、《西游记》、are still the most read, 2 of the 4 being “martial” fiction. Which fits with material I have published in earlier posts about the decline in masculine gender self-confidence, since these are so-called “wuxia” (gongfu-fictional lone wolf heroic) tales, fanatasies of archaic maleness. The latter “audience” is very visible in Mo Yan’s NE Gaomi chronicles, which stress the “hero of the marshes”, starting with Yu Zhan’ao in Red Sorghum Family. Note also that Life and Death are Wearing Me Out (Shengsi pilao 2006) even uses the double header chapter content summary format of the Ming-Qing classic romances.
4. Mo Yan’s three best-acclaimed novels are (in order?) Red Sorghum, Frogs, and Big Breasts Wide Hips.
(survey specifics below)