8,000 copies of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake have sold out within three weeks of going on sale.

A first edition of the lengthy novel – which in its phonetic rendering from Chinese comes out as Finnigin de Shoulingye – has sold out within three weeks of going on sale on Christmas Day, according to The Irish Times.

Given the fact that the novel presents a notoriously difficult reading experience in English, not to mind other languages, makes the runaway success all the more impressive.

“Reading Finnegans Wake is like looking at the sky, or the whole world," the novel’s translator Dai Congrong told the newspaper. "It’s like a garden in Suzhou, carefully arranged and selected.”

It took Dai eight years to complete the work. 8,000 copies is more than double the original English language print run of 3,400 copies for Joyce’s 676-page novel, which is favoured by a certain coterie of American academics, and largely neglected by the reading public. Ulysses fares far better, and very probably in Chinese too.