Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Saturday, June 22
The Indiana Daily Student


Fake Harry Potter book hits China

BEIJING -- Roll away, "Sorcerer's Stone''! Step aside, "Prisoner of Azkaban''! Harry Potter and Leopard-Walk-Up-To-Dragon are here! \nChinese fans of the British boy wizard with the lightning-bolt scar on his forehead are snapping up the fifth book in the wildly popular series. \nThere's just one problem. It's fake -- written by a Chinese author for a Chinese audience. \nThe 198-page book -- titled "Harry Potter and Leopard-Walk-Up-To-Dragon" after its mysterious villain -- has the name and bio of British author J.K. Rowling on its cover. But the tale in which Harry turns into a hairy dwarf after a "sour-sweet rain" is the unauthorized work of an anonymous author. \n"We have not found who wrote the book or where they come from," said Zhang Deguang of the People's Literature Publishing House, which has the series' publishing rights in China. "It's made a negative impact on our book sales."\nRowling is at work on the real fifth installment, which is not expected to be finished this year.\nRowling's agent, the Christopher Little Literary Agency in London, said it was aware of the fake Chinese Harry. A spokeswoman who asked not to be identified refused to comment by telephone, but sent The Associated Press an e-mail saying, "We are taking this issue extremely seriously." \nIt was unclear what punishment the fake author could face, given the uniqueness of the situation. However, China's government has promised repeatedly to crack down on counterfeiters and intellectual property theft. Still, flocks of hawkers selling fake DVDs were plying their trade unpunished Friday in central Beijing, in full view of police. \nHarry Potter -- "Ha-li Bo-te" in Mandarin -- has had authorized translations into 18 languages. \nA movie made from the first book, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," ranked No. 7 on the all-time box office list in the United States, taking in $317 million. In China, unauthorized copies were being sold by DVD peddlers on the street four days after it opened in the United States and Britain. \nPublication in 2000 of the genuine Harry Potter -- a boxed set of the four books to date -- was a major literary event in China. \nA team of four translators, veterans who had rendered "Alice in Wonderland" and "Tom Sawyer" into Chinese, drew on China's own tales of ghosts, magic and kung fu for language to portray Harry's world of sorcery. \nThe first printing was 600,000 copies, which the publisher said was the biggest of its kind ever in China for a commercial work. \nZhang said the People's Literature Publishing House has found copies of the unauthorized Harry in wholesale markets and private bookstores throughout Beijing. \nMost booksellers visited by reporters on Friday denied having copies. They said police threatened to fine them 10 times the $2.80 price if any copies were found. \n"The fifth one hasn't been published!" yelled one merchant at a wholesale warehouse. \nA shopkeeper in western Beijing sold a copy for $1.20, pulling it from a hiding place behind a stack of books. \nThe cover of "Leopard-Walk-Up-To-Dragon" shows a dark-haired, bespectacled boy in black robes riding a satyr battling a dragon.\nThe story centers around a struggle between Harry and his classmates at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and a mysterious wizard. \nCharacters well-known to fans of Rowling's series make an appearance -- the Dursleys, Harry's friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasely and his archrival, Draco Malfoy. \nA cartoon sketch begins each chapter, as in the original. Among their quirky names is, "The Dance of the Spider and the Fly." \nFor all that, true Harry Potter fans won't be fooled for long. Rowling's imitator just doesn't have her touch. Consider the opening paragraph: \n"Harry is wondering in his bath how long it will take to wash away the creamy cake from his face. To a grown-up, handsome young man, it is disgusting to have filthy dirt on his body. Lying in a luxurious bathtub and rubbing his face with his hands, he thinks about Dudley's face, which is as fat as Aunt Petunia's bottom"

Get stories like this in your inbox