First politically correct Nobel cheered by China
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First politically correct Nobel cheered by China

Effusive; one word to describe how the Chinese government on Friday hailed Mo Yan’s Noble Prize for Literature all along the entire length of its considerably long media arm.

world Updated: Oct 12, 2012 23:32 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times

Effusive; one word to describe how the Chinese government on Friday hailed Mo Yan’s Noble Prize for Literature all along the entire length of its considerably long media arm.

Mo’s win was described as the opening of a cultural door between the west and China long locked by the barriers of language and politics.

Analytical pieces were also carried by the state media, attempting to find out what would have prompted the Academy to award the prize to Mo.

In celebrating the win, the Communist Party of China (CPC) –ruled country nonchalantly but effectively set aside its long-running disdain for the Swedish Academy’s coveted trophy; no longer was the Noble reserved for those glared and frowned upon as dissidents by the opaque party-cum-government. Here was a Chinese Noble winner considered close and loyal to the CPC, someone who is not only a Party member but also carrying the designation of the deputy chairperson of the state-backed Chinese Writers Association.

“Ordinarily, we should treat the Nobel Prize with indifference, as past prizes have tended to be politicised, just like the peace prize…Mo is a local author in China, and also one of the Chinese mainland's mainstream writers. His win will amend Chinese people's attitudes toward the Noble Prize. However, a sense of trust toward the prize will not be established anytime soon in Chinese mainstream society,” the newspaper Global Times said in a congratulatory piece on Mo.

Commentators tried to explain why Mo was chosen though – as one writer admitted – his contender Japanese author Haruki Murakami is popular in Chine itself.

“Mo's novel "Big Breasts & Wide Hips," translated by Howard Goldblatt, tells a story of a mother who struggled and suffered hardship and intertwined fates with Chinese people in the 20th century. His more recent work "Frog" more directly criticized China's one-child family policy, which helped control the country's population explosion but also brought tragedies to rural residents in the past 60 years,” wrote commentator Yan Hao in the state-run Xinhua news agency.

"I think the reason why I could win the prize is because my works present lives with unique Chinese characteristics, and they also tell stories from a viewpoint of common human beings, which transcends differences of nations and races," Mo said on Thursday evening to Chinese journalists.

The silhouettes of his works included the 1911 revolution that toppled China's last imperial dynasty, Japan's brutal invasion, newly Communist China's failed land-reform policies of the 1950s and the impact of Mao Zedong's 1966-76 Cultural Revolution.

It’s possible that in many parts of the world, Mo may be the first contemporary Chinese writer people will come to know after getting the Noble prize.

And, according to many here, the opening of the Noble door – at least for the first time to a mainstream writer not carrying the dissident tag -- will ensure that he will not be the last.

Top Communist leader and the country’s propaganda chief Li Changchun praised Mo in a letter addressed to the China Writers Association of which the author is an office bearer.

Mo’s reward “reflects the prosperity and progress of Chinese literature, as well as the increasing influence of China,” the letter said.

"Basing their writing on the life of the people and the traditions of the nation, Chinese writers have created a great many excellent works of Chinese characteristics, styles and spirits," reads the letter by Li, who’s also member of the powerful standing committee of the CPC.

Li expressed hope that Chinese writers will focus on the country's people in their writing and create more excellent works that will stand the test of history.

First Published: Oct 12, 2012 16:55 IST