Fangirling Chinese Novels

Challenge 1: The C-novel that started it all


So the first challenge theme is: Memory of your first C-novel or the C-novel that got you into the genre.

I am going to cheat a little bit, because I am actually going to talk about 3 different novels that got me totally hooked on the genre: Bu Bu Jing Xin, Da Mo Yao and Hua Xu Yin.

Bu Bu Jing Xin by Tong Hua

I think this book needs little introduction. It should probably be known as the C-novel that converted a thousand fans, mainly due to the popularity of the drama adaptation. To be honest, I avoided watching this because I really did not feel anything for the “time-travel” type of stories. But somehow I fell into watching Yumama’s Gong, and I felt like since I already have one foot into the hole, I might as well try the other one.

And since I have been told that drama adaptation was quite faithful to the story line, I’m letting myself cheat a little by naming it here. The drama was gorgeous – and it left me craving for more. I was scouring the net for info when I chanced upon Mrs K’s playground of goodies, which led me to my second C-novel, her English translation of Da Mo Yao (or Ballad of the Desert).

Da Mo Yao by Tong Hua

This is the first C-novel English translation that I have read. Mrs K really put a lot of effort in it and this was what cemented my determination continue hunting down C-Novels, translated or otherwise.

I don’t really have much to say since this was long ago. I can only say that it was absolutely addictive and I could not put it down. It really made me crave for more C-novels.

But as some of you may already know, while I can understand and speak conversational Mandarin, I am illiterate. 😦 I can write my name, but that is about it. So it was really a boon when I found ShuShengBar and they had links to audiobooks! And Peanuts was a gem who kept recommending me more and more C-Novels.

Hua Xu Yin by Tang Qi Gong Zi

Hua Xu Yin is the first C-novel that I devoured in its original language. And boy, while watching BBJX and reading the translated English version of DMY were enjoyable experiences, nothing could beat consuming literature in its original form. Suffice to say, this is one of my favourite books and I have shared a lot about this book with you guys.

They are currently filming the drama adaptation and to be honest, I am half dreading the finished product. I’m not keen on most of the cast except Yuan Hong and Jiang Xin (who I really wish were playing characters from the 13th Moon story arc). But I will take Yuan Hong in any form (and apparently, he couldn’t do the 13th Moon storyline anyway since he has prior filming obligations).

If there was one thing that Tangren did right with BBJX was that the costumes were absolutely gorgeous. That made the whole drama a thing of beauty in its own right. But HXY’s costumes are looking a bit jokey and just leaves me feeling uninspired.

But I digress. So here are the first three C-novels that nudged me on this path of fandom. All of them are very good books in their own right, which I would definitely recommend!

18 thoughts on “Challenge 1: The C-novel that started it all

  1. Well, of course I need to write something to support my partner in c-novels listening:) Like most of you out there, BBJX is the trigger point for my obssession with C-novels:) I saw part of it on Hunan channel when I was in China. Thereafter I searched everywhere online for information & came across many blogs especially Mrs K’s one. I am glad to know I am not the only crazy one, lol. I also didn’t read the novel because I’ve watched the drama a few times:P

    Similar to hui3r, I also started with Mrs K’s English translation of DMY. For the first time in my life, I become a lurker but just an online one, haha….I was especially keen on that novel because I was led to believe Hu Ge will act as Hua Qu Bing in the drama adaptation:) Then when it was revealed he will be Meng Jiu, most of us were really disappointment to the extent Mrs K decided not to continue with the translation:( At that time I read a comment about the availability of an audiobook so I jumped at the chance to finish my beloved novel. That is how I also become obsessed with audiobooks.

    Different to hui3r’s experience, my 3rd novel is 3L3W10MPB. Now, all of you know why I am so keen on translating the weekly specials which consume a fair bit of time researching & translating them. I believe I am hamster’s first reader. If not, at least I am sure I am the first one to leave a thank you comment on her blog:P I came across her blog while googling for BBJX, lol. As the saying goes, this is all fated, haha… Because of the angsty prologue & intro, I started to get hooked on that book as well and resorted to audiobook to get spoilers:P

    If all of you don’t already know by now, I will declare once & for all that I cannot read Chinese !!! My listening skill is passable as I grew up watching Mandarin dubbed J-drama, K-drama, T-drama & C-drama. However my conversational skill is bad as I speak Cantonese. However all these handicaps didn’t deter me from enjoying C-novels !!! Due to the limited supply of audiobooks, I resort to using google translate to read them to me. Yes, you read it right. I painstakingly copy & paste each chapter into google translate:( I though I am the only crazy girl in this world to do this but I found out later I do have company, lol.

    Because of my love for C-novels, I manage to make friends with many people who share my passion, leading to the setting up of Shu Sheng Bar and this blog. From translating novel synopsis, I have progressed to translating snippets, mini-specials and even part of a book. I can’t believe I’ve come such a long way for someone who can’t read Chinese. Thus, don’t let your inability to read Chinese prevent you from listening to Chinese novels. There are really many good C-novels out there waiting to be discovered by you. Where there is a will & dedication, there is a way:P

    As for those who can’t understand Chinese at all, then you’ve to wait for English translation. Hui3r & I will do our best to translate any goodies for you. Hopefully with the increasing popularity of adapting C-novel into drama, there will be more blogs out there devoting to translating C-novels. In the meantime, you can try using google translation but I’ve to admit the English translation is quite bad and not really understandable:( But with the advancement in technology, it may be possible to have better one in the future:)

  2. Well, if you will allow I shall just leave my 2cts. here. First, let me tell you how much I’m amazed by you, Peanuts (btw that’s my sister’s nickname too) and HUI3R, who, apparently know very little Chinese and yet could produce this column which many of us who are in the same boat as you, can enjoy. My sincerest respect for you. Let me tell you that my interest in Chinese TV series started only about 5 years ago and it was actually my liking for Kevin Cheng’s series that led me to BBJX. To tell you the truth before that I never liked watching C dramas and always thought them not my cup of tea. Well, my taste has changed and here I am. I’ve got lots to learn, like, I’ve never heard of Chinese audio books and where does one get them? Only in HK? I know some Chinese but not enough to read a novel.

    • I know… at first I was like “C-dramas? Ewwww.” But BBJX and Legend of Zhen Huan has totally converted me.

      If you are interested in Chinese audiobooks, Shushengbar is a veritable treasure trove. If you there is an audiobook for the book, it is usually linked from the book page. Peanuts say you should start with Hua Xu Yin and I agree because the broadcaster is very good and her mandarin is relatively easy to understand. Go here:

      They’ve also put up a guide to downloading audiobooks:

      Cantonese is my mother tongue and I grew up watching TVB series. So picking up listening to mandarin is not that hard. My speech is still pretty atrocious; my colleagues try to keep a straight face when I am forced to converse in Mandarin. Probably good enough to ask, “Where’s the nearest toilet” but that’s about it.

  3. I would actually say Tong Hua got me into this Cnovel thing. It all started from watching BBJX. I actually never planned to watch it because I just finished watching Gong. Instead I decided to read the english translation, but it was incomplete at that time, so instead I jumped right to the drama when the translations stopped. After watching BBJX I found out that they were gonna make another one of Tong Hua’s novels into a drama and that was Da Mo Yao. I started reading a chapter of Ms Koala’s DMY translation, but since I was Chinese, it was actually strange to be reading a translation, and I happened to stumble into and started my venture into my Cnovel addiction.

    There was actually 3 books that really had me strapped down to CNovels, first was DMY; next I read Grand Dreams; and lastly Once Promised totally sucked me in. I must say those of us that can read or even understand Chinese is really blessed. We are invited into such a rich culture and language that can not be exactly passed through translations. There’ll always be a little something, the essence, that even the best translator out there can not truly captivate in their translations.

    haha My first comment!

    • Welcome! *HUGS CHANCY*

      I know Grand Dreams is quite highly rated, but I’m not a fan of the XiShi story. I tried Once Promised (it was my second novel) but it just made my head hurt at the beginning. I couldn’t get hooked in.

  4. I actually can’t remember which book I started first.I think it was Qing Shi Huang Fei (which now that I think about it was not qualitatively that good.) I tried to read BBJX after watching the drama, but I was breaking down in the middle of the second book, and I just couldn’t. After that, it was an endless spiral of obsession, before I pulled myself out. (Lost You Forever pulled me right back in, though.)

    I was always a fan of historical dramas (nothing like the grand epics of Chinese history.) Chinese novels offer a different style of romance than English novels. It has an epic level of love conquers all (usually) but doesn’t feel like a YA novel.

    (I still have to read Hua Xu Yin, but the Shen An, Song Ning storyline is quite off-putting.)

    • I read QSHF drama didn’t follow the novel that much. That novel was written by a very young newbie. You can find her picture in my how your favourite authors look like post. Aiya, BBJX the drama followed the novel closely, so no need to read the novel & feel sad all over again.

      What is a YA novel? Hey, Chancy, Atsu & I are listening to this ancient novel called 媚公卿. I think it is the Wei guo era. Ya, I am tempting you, lol.

      Oh, you must read Hua Xu Yin. You can skip Shen An & Song Ning’s story. I’ve to read it again to do my summaries & I am falling in love with the book all over again, lol. The Ah Fu & Mu Yan’s parts are so sweet & funny. Then you get the angst from all the sub-stories.

      • I wa obsessed with BBJX and wanted to know all the details. Did you know that 14th kept the hairpin she used to stab the horse (in the race with MinMin)? His punishment wasn’t imprisonment in De Fei’s palace but rather to guard the imperial tombs. When 4th died, he took back the hairpin from 14th.

        A new novel does sound very tempting… Although, I’m having difficulty choosing between Hua Xu Yin, Chang Ge Xin (it sounds like a great epic romance!) or Mei Gong Qing(is that the name?).

        • Haha, I guess I was not as obssessed as you since I didn’t have the urge to read the novel so I don’t know anything in the novel. But I did search the worldwisde net for BBJX which was how I stumbled upon Koala’s playground and many other blogs.

          If you can’t chooose, then read all of them, lol. Hua Xu Yin is a must read bcos from the trailers, I can see the drama is butchering the novel. You may wanna leave Chang Ge Xin last since is is very long and the drama may do the novel justice. Maybe you can read it b4 or after you watch the drama. As for Mei Gong Qing, I like the novel bcos of the good audio book. Actually the novel is quite good but it lacks humour which is very impt to me. It is something like Groundhog’s Day. She time travels but not from modern to ancient but from death to life, to relive her life again with a difference. I should post it in SSB but I am just too slack to translate the synopsis. If you are reading it, pls translate the synopsis & post it up:)

  5. The C-novel that started it all for me was actually “Silent Separation” right here on your site! I don’t read or understand Chinese at all, much less speak it, haha. But I had a question after watching the drama “My Sunshine” and stumbled across this site with the translated novel, so I read it! It did not answer my question, haha, but it was my first! After that I started reading “Wipe Clean After Eating” and I will probably go on to read the rest of your offerings too! But I still have to agree with you that BBJX set me down on this path, even though it was the subtitled drama and not the novel. Before then, I was not very interested in Cdrama at all! After that came “Palace,” “Sealed With a Kiss” “Shan Shan Come and Eat” and “Da Mo Yao.”

  6. Where is this BBJX translated novel?

    My first was reading in Vietnamese actually lol then some of them stop 😦 so I search and find this website after I saw they were doing Silent Separation translation 🙂 & I fall for Yi Chuan (cry) I really love it!

  7. This one story that caused me to start reading translated c-novel is Gu Fang Bu Zi Shang!! (Did I spell the title right?) XDD

  8. My first ever C-novel that brought me to C-novel land is A lonesome fragrance waiting to be appreciated (i can’t remember the chinese title though)
    Since then I’ve had to split my time between Korean dramas and C-novels. Other novels no longer held much appeal.
    However, talking about my first novel on this site, i think that should be Silent separation, and it got me hooked on Fanatical (and Wallace Chung even more of course….lol) . Special thanks to Peanuts, Lidge and Hoju for your contributions to translated C-novel land. You guys are the best!!

  9. I don’t know if I’m too late but….
    BBJX (the drama) was also the one to pull me into C-novels. I remember watching it on tv and streaming it with my family on various viewing apps. I didn’t understand a lot of the parts as I was too young then (about 10) but in 2018, I decided to read the novel (because my reading speed is much faster than my watching/listening speed). I was searching for the translations when I found SSB and NU. At that time I found several translations such as 我不喜欢這世界,我只喜欢你 (I don’t like this world, I only like you/ Le Coup de Foudre) and 满满都是我对你的爱 (Full of my love for you)… After reading the translations, I decided to read the chinese versions and ever since, I’ve been slowly consuming more.

    • So sorry for the late reply as your comment was buried in a sea of comments. Thank you for your comment.

      Better late than never…..

      Yes, you should read the original Chinese version because inevitably more will be lost in translation to a different language. It will also help you to improve your Chinese as well as appreciate the beauty of the language. Add oil 🙂

  10. What put me on to C novels was Love o2o.
    During covid I got a Netflix subscription and ended up watching k dramas and then c dramas.
    While watching Love o2o and others there were many references that made no sense to me. I live in Australia and only speak english.
    When I found and read your english translation, not only was it an enjoyable read, your explinations made scenes in the novels make much more sense to me. E.g. the issue of a man wearing a green hat!
    From there I started on all the Gu Man and Ma Bao Fei Bao novels. I prefer the modern to the historical novels.
    Thanks for taking the time to translate them.

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