Hewitt, Duncan, Newsweek
Byline: Duncan Hewitt
The enfant terrible of Chinese letters finds foes, not friends.
The world's most widely read blogger is sitting--largely unrecognized--in a small Shanghai cafe, explaining his accidental career. "I didn't particularly want to write a blog--I felt a bestselling writer shouldn't provide their writing to readers free of charge," the writer Han Han says with a grin: "But people put their hopes on you, so I began writing."
If the recipient of this year's Nobel Prize for Literature, Mo Yan, 57, is one of the elder statesmen of Chinese writing, Han, at 30, is its rising star--and its enfant terrible. And self-deprecating, Han is certainly not. But then fame came early. At 17, Han dropped out of school and published a novel, titled The Triple Gate, that skewered China's educational system and went on to become a runaway bestseller. Encouraged by this early success, Han wrote more books and, heightening his celebrity appeal, began a secondary professional career as a rally driver.
But it was his blog posts, with their irreverent and sometimes cynical take on Chinese society and politics, that really struck a chord with young, Web-savvy fans. More than 580 million hits on his blog later, a collection of these posts has been translated and will be the first of Han's writing to go on sale in English. This Generation: Dispatches From China's Most Popular Literary Star (and Race Car Driver) offers a flavor of his often sardonic tone. Conservative elders shouldn't blame young people for China's problems, he argues, since the young are really powerless. …