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.”