Saturday, July 6, 2002
Beijing Roll away, "Sorcerer's Stone"! Step aside, "Prisoner of Azkaban"! Harry Potter and Leopard-Walk-Up-To-Dragon are here!
Chinese 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.
There's just one problem. It's fake ï¿½ written by a Chinese author for a Chinese audience.
The 198-page book ï¿½ titled "Harry Potter and Leopard-Walk-Up-To-Dragon" after its mysterious villain ï¿½ 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.
"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."
Rowling is at work on the real fifth installment, which is not expected to be finished this year.
Rowling's agent, the Christopher Little Literary Agency in London, said it was aware of the fake Chinese Harry. A spokeswoman refused to comment by telephone, but sent The Associated Press an e-mail saying, "We are taking this issue extremely seriously."
It 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.
Harry Potter ï¿½ "Ha-li Bo-te" in Mandarin ï¿½ has had authorized translations in 18 languages. Publication in 2000 of the genuine Harry Potter, a boxed set of the four books, was a major literary event in China.