Mo Yan

Mo Yan's Nobel Prize lecture scorned by China dissidents

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 December, 2012, 4:30am

Mo Yan's Nobel lecture did little to dispel ongoing controversy in China's literary circles, with state media widely covering this year's literature prize winner even as dissident artists piled on derision.

In the traditional Nobel lecture in Stockholm on Friday, Mo, the vice-chairman of the government-backed China Writers' Association, took a swipe at his critics, saying their target "had nothing to do" with him and urging them to read his books.

Mo has walked a tightrope during his stay in Stockholm, where he will pick up the award tomorrow, with some pundits supporting his own claims that he is "independent" and others casting him as a Beijing stooge.

"The announcement of my Nobel Prize has led to controversy. At first I thought I was the target of the disputes, but over time I've come to realise that the real target was a person who had nothing to do with me," he said.

The best way for a writer to speak was through his work, Mo argued, adding that everything he needed to say could be found in his works.

"Speech is carried off by the wind; the written word can never be obliterated," he told his audience on Friday.

Elsewhere in the Swedish Academy reading, the writer honoured his illiterate mother, who held people who could read in high regard but who also worried that her son's story-telling could land him in trouble.

"Talkative kids are not well thought of in our village, for they can bring trouble to themselves and to their families," he said.

In China, Mo's lecture was derided by dissident artists.

"In the last few days, he has defended the system of censorship ... then in his lecture, he talks about story-telling - to use a Chinese expression, he is like a prostitute insisting her services are clean," dissident poet Ye Du , a member of the non-government Independent Chinese Pen Centre, said.

"As far as an assessment of him, in literature he has some merit, but as a living human being he is a dwarf."

Ye said Chinese intellectuals had hoped Mo would use the lecture to renew his call for the release of jailed 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, but he voiced support for China's state censorship instead.

During a Thursday press conference, Mo had said censorship was sometimes necessary and compared it with airport security.