Writers must take on political issues: Mo Yan

  • AFP, Beijing
  • |
  • Updated: Oct 12, 2012 08:43 IST

Chinese author Mo Yan, some of whose works have cast an unflattering eye on official policy, said after winning the literature Nobel that it was a writer's duty to spotlight political and social issues.

Mo Yan, 57, on Thursday became the first Chinese national to win the prize, awarded for a body of work that takes a sometimes cynical look at what he has called the "ugliness" of society, in often politically tinged tales.

His 2009 novel "Frog", for example, takes on China's "one child" population control policy and the local officials who ruthlessly implement it with forced abortions and sterilisations.

"Because a writer lives within society, the life that he describes includes politics and a wide variety of social problems," Mo Yan told reporters in a video clip posted late Thursday on the website of the Da Zhong Daily, a newspaper in his home province of Shandong.

"So a writer who cares about society, a writer who cares about the suffering of people, should naturally be critical.

"I think criticism is an important function of literary works. Of course, truth, goodness and beauty should also be praised," Mo Yan, a member of the ruling Communist Party, said after his Nobel award was announced.

Mo Yan, whose real name is Guan Moye, is perhaps best-known abroad for his 1987 novella Red Sorghum, a tale of the brutal violence that plagued the eastern Chinese countryside -- where he grew up -- during the 1920s and 30s.

Despite the often edgy content of his dozens of novels, novellas and short stories, Mo Yan has deftly managed to avoid serious trouble with Communist Party authorities.

This is due in part due to his position as a deputy chairman of the state-endorsed Chinese Writers Association and his party membership.

Chinese literary experts have said Mo Yan also has a keen sense of China's political winds and knows just how far to push the envelope.

Mo Yan has come under some criticism from fellow writers who have accused him of kowtowing to communist authorities.

Exiled Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng criticised Thursday's award, calling it an attempt by Nobel organisers to appease Beijing, which lashed out in 2010 over the Nobel Peace Prize won by jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo.

"We could tell that this prize was awarded for the purpose of pleasing the communist regime and is thus not noteworthy," said the exiled Wei, who is considered by many to be the father of China's modern democracy movement.

 

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