• Sweden edition
 
2012 NOBEL PRIZES
Mo Yan to avoid politics at Nobel awards

Mo Yan to avoid politics at Nobel awards

Published: 05 Dec 2012 11:25 GMT+01:00
Updated: 05 Dec 2012 11:25 GMT+01:00

Mo Yan has been hailed as a national hero since the prize announcement in October, and his works have rocketed up China's best-seller lists. But he has also had to contend with criticism from activists who brand him a stooge for the ruling Communist Party.

State media reported the writer was leaving Wednesday for Stockholm, where he will give his Nobel lecture on Friday ahead of the prize ceremony on Monday.

Until the award Mo Yan had won critical praise but little mainstream fame for his works, which blend harshly realistic accounts of life in China's countryside with fantastical and sometimes grotesque satire, including cannibalism and orgiastic feasting.

But the announcement prompted Chinese readers to snap up his books, leaving retailers around the country with empty shelves.

He earned royalties of 21.5 million yuan ($3.5 million) this year, the second-highest of any Chinese writer, according to an annual survey.

Gaomi, his home town, announced $107 million in projects to honour him, including a "Mo Yan Culture Experience Zone" and the planting of swathes of red sorghum, in honour of his best-known work, a 1987 novella named after the plant.

State-run media was effusive, hailing him as China's first Nobel literature prize winner, even though Chinese-born Gao Xingjian - whose works were banned in China and who later took French nationality - won the 2000 literature award.

Liu Xiaobo, who was jailed in 2009 for calling for democratic change, was awarded the Peace prize the following year, but officials excoriated the decision as interference in China's internal affairs. The Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama was also awarded the 1989 peace prize.

Mo Yan himself was criticised for holding a senior role in the state-backed Chinese Writers' Association, and for joining a government-sanctioned walk-out of a German book fair in protest at the presence of dissident writers.

Yu Jie, an exiled dissident writer, was quoted by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle as calling Mo's award "the biggest scandal in the history of the Nobel prize for literature".

Romanian-born novelist Herta Mueller, who won the literature prize in 2009, called Mo's win a "catastrophe," saying: "He celebrates censorship. It's extremely upsetting."

But Mo surprised his critics when he mentioned Liu Xiaobo at a press conference in October. "I hope he can gain freedom as early as possible," he said.

He strove to separate his work from politics, saying that his Nobel win was "a literature victory, not a political victory".

Mo Yan has long trodden a fine line between criticising China's political establishment and cooperating with it, said Ma Xiangwu, a literature professor at the People's University in Beijing.

"For a long time Mo has occupied a position within the system, but not totally within it," he said. "His works are often very critical of society and politics -- he's too complex to be put in a box."

In keeping with that, he said there was "absolutely no chance" Mo would refer to Liu in his Nobel lecture.

"He won't mention sensitive issues during his speech. I think he will be quite moderate. I don't think he will directly criticise the government... but I also don't expect he will heap extravagant praise on China," he added.

In an open letter published Tuesday, more than 130 past Nobel winners urged the Chinese Communist Party's new chief Xi Jinping to release Liu.

The sensitivity of the issue is such that Wei Yingjie, an author and book critic, declined to mention Liu Xiaobo by name.

"It is possible that the Writers' Association and government officials will remind Mo Yan not to mention sensitive topics during his speech," he said.

"I don't think there is a big chance he will mention him of his own accord. He has already said more than Chinese web users are permitted to say online."

AFP/The Local

Follow The Local on Twitter

Your comments about this article

17:59 December 5, 2012 by samwise
if he really doesn't like politics, why bother to be a communist official? by the way, calling communism evil is no politics, it's plain human conscience.
Today's headlines
National
Teens in intensive care after school 'initiation'
Photo: Peder Skrivares school

Teens in intensive care after school 'initiation'

School inspectors are investigating after an initiation ceremony at a high school in Varberg in south west Sweden left four girls in hospital. READ  

National
Pirate Bay Swede 'mistreated' in jail
Peter Sunde. Photo: TT

Pirate Bay Swede 'mistreated' in jail

The brother of Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde has questioned the conditions of his brother's Swedish jail, slamming both the institution and the guards. READ  

Elections 2014
Fresh election fears in divided Sweden
Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson may not support a Social Democrat budget. Photo: TT

Fresh election fears in divided Sweden

UPDATED: The leaders of Sweden's main political parties have been called to parliament as speculation grows that the Sweden Democrats could hold the key to new elections. READ  

Presented by Stockholm Business Region
Introducing... the Stockholm collection
Photo: Imagebank Sweden

Introducing... the Stockholm collection

Moving to Stockholm, or just dreaming about it? Either way, this is your ultimate guide: for housing, finances, insurance, business, and so much more. READ  

In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Fastighetsbyrån

In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week

Time for some luxury this week - we're heading to a sprawling Eskilstuna property with a location and view to die for. READ  

National
Row over viral 'Nazi receipt' in Swedish shop
A cashier in a Coop supermarket: Photo: TT

Row over viral 'Nazi receipt' in Swedish shop

A photo of a till receipt with the Nazi slogan "Sieg Heil" printed on it has gone viral in Sweden, with supermarket chain Coop launching an internal investigation. READ  

Society
Sweden tops 'financial well-being' rankings
Sweden's family-friendly policies contribute to well-being. Photo: TT

Sweden tops 'financial well-being' rankings

Swedes have fewer money concerns than people from any other European country, according to the latest major report on global well-being. READ  

National
King Carl XVI Gustaf 'unhurt' after crash
The King of Sweden. Photo: TT

King Carl XVI Gustaf 'unhurt' after crash

UPDATED: Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf has been involved in a car accident but is unhurt, the Royal family's press office has confirmed to The Local. READ  

Elections 2014
Migration minister calls Feminists 'a dark force'

Migration minister calls Feminists 'a dark force'

Sweden's Migration Minister has said in a Facebook post that both the Sweden Democrats and the Feminist Initiative parties were "dark, gloomy, and destructive forces". READ  

The Local List
Ten Swedish designs that made life better
Playsam

Ten Swedish designs that made life better

Sweden has produced an indecent number of design classics. We take a look at some of the best - from toys to furniture, fabric designs to telephones, packaging to super-safe headwear. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Property of the week - Eskilstuna
Sponsored Article
How to start a business in Stockholm
Society
How I became a surf blogger when I moved to Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 13th
Society
Why is Stockholm's Södermalm so cool?
Blog updates

17 September

Deep election analysis (Blogweiser) »

"You think you’re bad? Well I’m American. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFbomLID0vU Deep deep analysis on Swedish election results. Vlog post: https://t.co/tjQgfa5Yie #svpol #val2014 #politics pic.twitter.com/oEK5ADFT8L — Joel Sherwood (@joeldsherwood) September 17, 2014 " READ »

 

15 September

Liten, litet, små & lilla (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej igen! Have you ever been confused about when to use “liten”, “litet”, “små” and “lilla”? Today I’m going to sort out how use the adjective “liten” (small) and the different forms of it. Liten or litet? “Liten” is the form we will use when referring to a noun with the gender “en”. For example: Min pappa har en..." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
People-watching: September 11th
Gallery
People-watching: September 13th
Politics
Five possible election outcomes
Politics
Sweden elections: How do they work?
Politics
Sweden elections: Who's who?
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week - Hornstull, Stockholm
Analysis
Five differences between the UK and Sweden
Welshman Jonny Luck is now a chef in Sweden
Society
How I opened my own restaurant in Sweden's Malmö
Sponsored Article
Stockholm tech fest: relive the magic
Gallery
People-watching September 8th
Photo: TT
Politics
Feminists fight for first seats
Politics
Immigration cut push from Sweden Democrats
Sheryl Sandberg says women have "low expectations"
Tech
Facebook exec talks women's limits in Swedish business
Politics
Left Party calls for justice and equality
Politics
Green Party wants 'better world' for kids
Lifestyle
The five best Swedish songs of the month
Sponsored Article
Introducing… Insurance in Stockholm
National
Huge clear up underway after Skåne floods
Politics
Sweden's Alliance reveals full manifesto
Tech
Sweden's highest peak to lose title next year
Sponsored Article
Graduates: Insure your income in Sweden with AEA
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing...Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

855
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN