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2012 NOBEL PRIZES
Mo Yan win 'denigrates' Nobel lit prize: artist

Mo Yan win 'denigrates' Nobel lit prize: artist

Published: 12 Oct 2012 10:36 GMT+02:00
Updated: 12 Oct 2012 10:36 GMT+02:00

The Swedish Academy's choice of Mo Yan for the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature has been slammed by Chinese dissidents and regime critics, including artist Ai Weiwei who called the decision "a joke".

While the Chinese government has hailed the newest Nobel Laureate in literature, Weiwei and other dissidents claim that Yan is too sympathetic with the regime in Beijing.

"This taints the Nobel Prize in Literature and is a dishonour to previous winners," Weiwei told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

He called the naming of Yan "a joke" and likened the 57-year-old Chinese author to being a representative of the Chinese government.

"Only two years ago, the Peace Prize went a Chinese person (Liu Xiaobo) who wanted to express his opinion. He was thrown in prison for that because it was seen as damaging China's security. Today a Chinese person received the Literature Prize, someone who not only writes about the political situation, but also tries to paint it in flattering terms," said Weiwei.

"The Nobel Prize in Literature has been denigrated."

Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng, who lives in exile in Washington, DC, agreed.

"Just look at the elated hype on the Nobel prize by the Chinese government before and after the announcement. We could tell that this prize was awarded for the purpose of pleasing the communist regime and is thus not noteworthy," he told the AFP news agency.

Speaking with Deutsche Welle, exiled dissident author Yu Jie called the choice of Yan "the biggest scandal in the history of the Literature Prize".

"That an author who copied Mao Zedong's texts and sung his songs of praise can win the prize – Mao Zedong butchered more people than Stalin and Hitler," he said.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government hailed Yan's winning of the Literature Prize as "reflecting the prosperity and forward progress of Chinese literature, as well as China's growing influence", wrote Li Changchun, head of propaganda for the regime.

In its citation explaining why Mo Yan was awarded the prize, the Swedish Academy praise the author as one “who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary”.

Despite the ensuing controversy, the Academy's Permanent Secretary Peter Englund said the choice of Yan was an "easy decision".

“One of the things that is special with this year’s winner is that he depicts – from within - a world that most of us don’t have access to," Englund told The Local on Thursday.

“You should read Mo Yan when you are ready to face a whole new world, inhabited by new people and showing new ways of looking at the world."

TT/The Local/dl

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Your comments about this article

12:26 October 12, 2012 by EP
Good for Sweden-Chinese trade relations though ...
13:31 October 12, 2012 by comentatir
Ai Weiwei should also think why his artwork is regarded good and respected! If there is a conflict anywhere in the world both sides of the conflict benefit from their stand and become overrated at certain times!

I am not specificly talking about Weiwei but there are artists writers etc milking every possible political mistreat in their country and become famous! Take a look at the artists from the Middle East, China, Africa, Russia etc.
15:55 October 12, 2012 by 3rdjerseyman
This speaks to the fundamental question: why is communism more acceptable than fascism?

It is a fact that communism has murdered more of its citizens than fascism.

It is also a fact that communist states continue to deprive their citizens of basic human rights and continue to operate prisons and concentration camps where humans are punished for what they think, write or say.

China has no political liberty, none, zero. There is no free ballot, right to speak, freedom of association, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to travel. Cuba is busily imprisoning, beating and torturing democracy advocates. North Korea operates a gulag system that is visible on Google Earth.

We know this is going on, so are we not as culpable as those who knew of the Holocaust and who didn't act to stop it?

Again, why do we in the West accept kids running around in Che' gear when we'd be aghast if junior chose a Himmler t-shirt?
16:14 October 12, 2012 by WestlerGer
"One of the things that is special with this year's winner is that he depicts - from within - a world that most of us don't have access to," - Yes, and that is true of so much porn, so many penny violence novels, and of so much rubbish. Thank God that we do not have access to these things! But it would be a very poor reason to give one of them the Nobel Prize. So why has this Chinese guy been nominated? For political reasons, of course. It is a farce!
20:08 October 12, 2012 by AHA
If true, it is so unworthy of Ai Weiwei. He feels as if he was defeated. And if he really made these remarks then he is not worth the prize.
23:25 October 12, 2012 by prince T
Congratulations to Yan.

Sometimes we speak with both sides of the mouth. Did Yan win on merit or on political grounds. If he won on merits, his association with china is of no consequence. If it is the other way round then the pupose of literature prize is defeated. The latter seems not to be the case here.
01:22 October 13, 2012 by star10
The problem with literature award: it is too subjective. The quality of artistic literature is its beauty. It is not about truth in sense of a scientifically verified claim. And beauty is in the beholder's eye. So to me, the Nobel prize in literature is really meaningless. It just tells about the Nobel committee members' taste. That is all.
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