The famous dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who as of June this year is allowed to leave Beijing (though not China), has slammed the decision to award the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature to Mo Yan, saying:
“Giving the award to a writer like this is an insult to humanity and to literature. It’s shameful for the committee to have made this selection which does not live up to the previous quality of literature in the award.”
Ai Weiwei cites Mo Yan’s lack of involvement in “the contemporary struggle”, stating, “You can never separate literature and struggle from today’s current political situation. China is a state with no freedom of expression.”
The government-run People’s Daily newspaper celebrated the award saying:
“Mo Yan wins the Nobel Prize for Literature! This is the first Chinese writer who has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Chinese writers have waited too long, the Chinese people have waited too long.”
Which curiously neglects Gao Xingjian, a Chinese-born and raised author whose Nobel prize winning novel Soul Mountain, written in Chinese, about a journey on foot through China in search of a mythical Chinese mountain, was partly written in France, where Gao Xingian took citizenship, and first published in Taiwan due to political pressures.
In an interview with the Hong Kong newspaper, East Daily, Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji gave these gushing words of pride:
“I am very happy that works written in Chinese can win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Chinese characters have a history of several thousand years, and Chinese language has an infinite charm, (I) believe that there will be Chinese works winning Nobel Prizes again in the future. Although it’s a pity that the winner this time is a French citizen instead of Chinese, I still would like to send my congratulations both to the winner and the French Department of Culture.” [via wiki]
Perhaps Ai Weiwei has a point.