Writers are complex creatures, not saints or politicians
Here's one of the more thoughtful responses seen online last night to the Swedish Academy's decision, guaranteed to be controversial, to award Mo Yan this year's Nobel Prize in Literature, from avant-garde novelist and poet Bei Cun:
Journalists and friends have messaged me asking for my view, as I've expressed both congratulations as well as opposition to the hand-copying [of Mao's speech]. What we must remember is that this is a literature award, and is limited to that profession. As I said several days ago, a writer's political position will not inevitably affect his or her professional ability, otherwise someone such as Heidegger would be difficult to understand. Writers aren't saints, maintaining a spiritual contradiction is allowed. I can only hope Mo Yan uses his influence to encourage people to act on conscience.
Pheonix Television managed to reach Mo Yan by telephone shortly after he was announced as the recipient, and here's some of what he said:
I think that all the comments online, both those in my support and the criticism, make sense in their own way. This is an age in which people are free to express themselves, when anyone can make known their view on any writer's work. So, critic or supporter, I'm very thankful for them all. In a way, it's like I've just been baptised. In the past, before the internet, a writer had no way of knowing what so many people though of his work. Now that this is possible, I've been able to see that there are in fact many people who like my writing, and many people who don't.
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