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Chinese views differ on Nobel laureate

Mo Yan's win not universally welcomed

Mo Yan, awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature Mo Yan, awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature
  • ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
  • China
  • October 12, 2012
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Not all Chinese share the same tastes of the Nobel Prize Committee, who yesterday named Chinese writer Mo Yan as this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Mo Yan, whose pseudonym translates to “don’t speak,”  has been criticized for failing to support other Chinese writers who have been subjected to censorship under the Communist government.

“In an interview in London, Mo Yan said censorship can help the writing of an author. He protested against mainland dissident writer Dai Qing’s appearance at the Frankfurt Book Fair. He also copied the speech of Chairman Mao to commemorate an event for writers that Mao hosted in 1942,” said Patrick Poon Kar-wai, secretary of the Independent Chinese Pen Center.

“Mo Yan, as vice-chairperson of the official China Writers Association, is one of those who was responsible for censorship of other writers,” said Poon,  a member of Hong Kong diocese’s Justice and Peace Commission, arguing that the prize should consider the conduct of the artist, not just the work.

The Swedish Academy hailed the 57 year-old writer for his “hallucinatory realism” that merges folk tales, history and the contemporary, and created a world reminiscent of those forged by William Faulkner and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Mo Yan said in London this April that “Many approaches to literature have political bearings … a writer can inject their own imagination to isolate them from the real world or maybe they can exaggerate the situation – making sure it is bold, vivid and has the signature of our real world. So, actually I believe these limitations or censorship is great for literature creation."

Mo Yan's works include Red Sorghum, The Republic of Wine, and Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out.

“Mo’s win brought joy to his supporters,” the Xinhua News Agency said yesterday.

In a press conference in his hometown of Gaomi in eastern Shangdong province, the 57 year-old writer said he hopes fellow Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo “can achieve his freedom as soon as possible."

Liu, a writer and political dissident, was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment in 2009. He was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, at which time the Chinese Foreign Ministry called the Oslo-based Peace Prize committee "clowns."

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