Chinese Crime Fiction in English Translation: Readers’ Reception of The Golden Hairpin

  • Beixi Li University of Bristol
  • Carol O'Sullivan


Chinese crime novels are beginning to join the surge of crime fiction being translated into English, which we have seen in the last twenty years. Despite extensive comparative research on Chinese literature and its English translations, there has been little research on its reception. This is a significant omission in the case of genre fiction, which traditionally attracts a wide readership. Our study aims to address this gap, exploring the reception of Chinese crime fiction translated into English through a case study of The Golden Hairpin (2018) by Cece Qinghan, translated by Alex Woodend. Adopting a qualitative content analysis approach and using the software Nvivo, we analyse ninety-eight reviews of the book from Goodreads and Amazon. English readers comment on a range of aspects of the book including genre, content (plot, characters, and writing), difficulty in reading, access to Chinese culture, translation, sequels and adaptations, and format. Reflection on the quality of the translation was fairly frequent. Some readers felt a considerable sense of cultural distance, so paratextual support is important for translated Chinese fiction. The existence of an audiovisual adaptation had a positive effect on reader interest. The lack of resolution in the book, which is the only one in the series to be translated so far, was frequently commented on.