Chinese novelist Cao Wenxuan has been given the Hans Christian Andersen Award 2016, becoming the first Chinese national to win the “Nobel Prize for children’s literature.”
Cao’s books were “beautifully written” and “deeply humanistic”, said Patricia Aldana, the Hans Christian Andersen Jury President 2016, announcing the winner of the prize’s author award.
The presentation ceremony was held at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy on Monday. German illustrator Rotraut Susanne Berner, alongside Cao, was also honored with this year’s award.
The Hans Christian Andersen Award, inaugurated in 1956 and named after the Danish children’s writer, is often referred to as the highest international recognition to an author or illustrator of children’s books.
At this year’s ceremony two works were specifically mentioned in the president’s remarks, namely “the Bronze and Sunflower”, a novel set during the time of the Cultural Revolution in a rural Chinese village, and the “Dingding Dangdang” series about two brothers with Down syndrome who separately flee their village and then search for each other.
“Cao is a great example of how writing wonderful prose and telling stories about brave children facing tremendous difficulties and challenges can attract a very wide and committed child readership as well as helping to shape a literary tradition in China that honors the realities of children’s worlds,” Aldana said.
Born in 1954 in a small rural village in Yancheng, Jiangsu province, Cao spent his childhood in poverty. He went on to study at Peking University and is now a professor of Chinese literature and children’s literature.
“All of my stories are set in China, all of them are Chinese stories, but at the same time they are the stories of mankind,” said the Chinese author after receiving the award.
Since the award has been announced China’s social network has been buzzing with Mr. Cao’s fans reliving the warmth his books have made them feel over the years.
‘The book is breezy and I felt peaceful upon closing it’, wrote @aiqingamumu, a user of China’s twitter-like service Weibo.
China’s literature has continuously drawn global attention in recent years since Chinese novelist Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2012.
Sensation was roused again last year among China’s literature community as Liu Cixin, author of science fiction The Three-Body Problem, was granted the Hugo Award for Best Novel.
It’s been a popular theory among Chinese literature community, as well as ordinary readers, that the loss of subtle but significant meaning in translation has cost Chinese and Asian literature the international recognition they deserve.
Addressing the issue, Cao said that Chinese authors should make an effort to use language that is suitable for translation, a communication style that can be understood by the entire world.
Story by CCTV News.