Mo Yan Country

The rise of China’s Nobel-Prize winning novelist – Wei Yi, trans. Chenxin Jiang

This article from One-Way Street Magazine is published in partnership with Paper Republic. The translation was assisted with the generous support of Bill Bishop at the Sinocism newsletter, a daily digest of news and commentary on China.

On the afternoon of 12 October 2012, Mo Yan appeared at a press conference in a hotel meeting room that has since become famous worldwide. The hotel was in Gaomi, Mo Yan’s hometown, a small city in Shandong province in northeast China. Mo Yan was still wearing the same lilac dress shirt he’d been wearing the night before. He began by fielding two questions from reporters. Most of what he said quickly appeared online and disappeared just as quickly, perhaps because it wasn’t considered politically correct. Even before he’d won the Nobel Prize, Mo Yan’s politics had already been widely criticised as pro status-quo. In response, he said that his being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature was a triumph not of political correctness, but of literature.