“I thought this was something from the Onion at first. But I’m glad to know it is real news.”
“A well-deserved prize for such a despicable plagiarist. We need more awards of this kind in various fields.”
— From Weibo (in Chinese)
On November 1, the first Firestone Literary Awards (燧石文学奖 suìshíwénxuéjiǎng) took place in Beijing. A crowd of Chinese authors showed up at the ceremony, where a list of awards was announced, including Best Short Story, Best Novel, and the one that stole the whole show — the White Lotus Award, a special prize dedicated to “awarding” plagiarized works. The phrase white lotus (白莲花 báiliánhuā) is internet slang that refers to someone, usually a woman, who pretends to be sweet and innocent while engaged in manipulation and scheming.
Three nominees were competing for the White Lotus Award:
- Tang Qi 唐七 with her fantasy novel Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花
- Qin Jian 秦简 with her online work The Princess Weiyoung 锦绣未央
- Zhibai Shouhei 知白守黑 with his game-based novel The League of Legends Featuring Glory of Kings 英雄联盟之王者荣耀
Although all of the three novels were embroiled in plagiarism scandals, two of them were identified as the authors’ own intellectual properties and were adapted into popular TV series.
Based on votes collected online, the special award was given to Qin, who, apparently, didn’t attend the ceremony. According to (in Chinese) Li Bin 李彬, deputy secretary of the Tianjin Writers Association, which organized the awards, the goal of setting up such an award is to let readers know “how hard it is for a writer to create something original,” and to encourage them to “voluntarily boycott plagiarized works.”
Since the winner did not pick up the prize, the cash award of 9,999 yuan ($1,511) was donated to a charity program initiated by Chinese sci-fi author Hao Jingfang 郝景芳, who earned a Hugo Award in 2016 for her story Folding Beijing 北京折叠. The program, named Tongxing Academy (童行书院 tóngxíngshūyuàn), is to provide education to poor kids in rural areas.
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