Nobel laureate slams Mo Yan literature award

A past winner of the Nobel Prize in literature has called this year's choice for the award, China's Mo Yan, a "catastrophe" and accused him of "celebrating censorship", a Swedish newspaper said Saturday.

Nobel laureate slams Mo Yan literature award
Photo: Wikipedia; Johannes Kolfhaus

Herta Mueller, who won the prize in 2009, told the daily Dagens Nyheter that she wanted to cry when she heard Mo Yan had been given the prestigious award.

“The Chinese themselves say that Mo Yan is an official of the same rung as a (government) minister,” the Romanian-born writer said.

“He celebrates censorship. It’s extremely upsetting.”

She noted that the laureate had copied by hand a speech by late Communist ruler Mao Zedong for a commemorative book this year. In the speech Mao says art and culture should support the Communist Party.

Mueller, 59, added that handing the prize to the vice-chairman of the government-backed China Writers’ Association, while 2010 peace laureate Liu Xiaobo remains in jail, was “a slap in the face for all those working for democracy and human rights.”

Liu is serving an 11-year prison term for subversion after he called for democratic reforms to China’s one-party system.

The day after his prize was announced, Mo Yan told reporters that he hoped Liu could be released from prison “as soon as possible.”

“He should have said that four years ago, or at least two weeks before receiving the prize,” Mueller said.

Mueller was persecuted by Romania’s Communist-era secret police for refusing to become an informant, and her work was censored at home. She emigrated to Germany in 1987.

Her novels, notably “The Appointment” and “The Land of Green Plums”, describe the terror and humiliation she said she suffered under Nicolae Ceausescu’s regime.

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