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'Stunned' Mo Yan welcomes Nobel prize
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Oct 11, 2012

China netizens applaud Mo Yan's Nobel prize
Beijing (AFP) Oct 11, 2012 - Millions of China's microblog users broadly welcomed Thursday's award of the Nobel Literature Prize to Mo Yan, with many claiming an achievement for the country's literature.

The award was the most discussed topic on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, with almost three million users posting messages about the writer within two hours of the news being announced on state media.

"Mo Yan winning is his personal honour, but also the honour of Chinese literature," wrote one.

"For Mo Yan to win the Nobel prize is the greatest thing for so many Chinese people. It really is a dream," said another.

Mo Yan, 57, one of the country's leading writers of the past half-century, became the first Chinese national and just the second Chinese-language writer to win the literature prize.

"Congratulations Mo Yan. A Chinese person has won. There were tears in my eyes," said one user.

While the majority of posts on Weibo were congratulatory, some netizens displayed indifference.

One said the author impressed the judges because his writing style appeals to Westerners. "But to read his books, I do not think they capture the style of the Chinese people."

Other microblog users said the author would be able to exploit commercial opportunities following his triumph.

"Mo Yan has achieved overnight fame. My roommate tomorrow will go to the library to get a Mo Yan book. I doubt she will find one," said one user.

"His books are about to outsell Steve Jobs' biography," added another.

Chinese author Mo Yan said Thursday he was "stunned" and delighted at winning the Nobel prize for literature as millions in China expressed pride and state-controlled media framed the achievement as an honour for the country.

Mo Yan, 57, became the first Chinese national to win the prize, and the award finally gave China's government a Nobel it could be proud of, after previous peace prizes to the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama and dissident writer Liu Xiaobo enraged Beijing.

"On hearing the news that I won the award, I was very happy," Mo Yan was quoted saying by the official China News Service.

"I will focus on creating new works. I will strive harder to thank everyone."

Mo Yan is one of China's leading writers, known for works that explore the brutality and darkness of 20th-century Chinese society with a cynical wit in a highly prolific career.

The Swedish Academy which announced the award in Stockholm said he was honoured for using "fantasy and reality, historical and social perspectives" to create worlds reminiscent of William Faulkner and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Mo Yan, a pen name for the author, who was born Guan Moye, is perhaps best-known abroad for his 1987 novella "Red Sorghum", a tale of the brutal violence that plagued the eastern China countryside -- where he grew up -- during the 1920s and 30s.

It was later made into an acclaimed film by leading Chinese director Zhang Yimou.

The Nobel literature award is often dismissed in China as Western-focused.

But users of the country's hugely popular microblogging services broadly welcomed the win as a triumph for Chinese literature, making it the most discussed topic on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, with millions of postings on the subject in the hours after the announcement.

"Mo Yan winning is his personal honor, but also the honor of Chinese literature," said one posting.

"For Mo Yan to win the Nobel prize is the greatest thing for so many Chinese people. It really is a dream," said another.

China's state-controlled television broke into its evening news broadcast to announce the award.

It later broadcast an interview with He Jianming, vice chairman of the Chinese Writer's Association, who said: "We are very happy. This is a happy thing for the China literary world."

AFP could not immediately reach Mo Yan, whose mobile phone was switched off.

State media said he was at his home in rural Shandong province, where many of his works are set.

The Nobel Academy's permanent secretary, Peter Englund, said the organisation had spoken to Mo Yan by telephone at his home and that the author was "overjoyed and terrified" at the award.

"Winning the Nobel prize has stunned me, as I always thought it was very distant for me," he said in a recorded interview posted on the Nobel prize website.

The awards are a sensitive issue in China since Liu, the jailed dissident writer, won the 2010 Peace Prize for advocating democratic change in the Communist Party-ruled country.

China lashed out, vilifying the Norwegian committee that chooses the peace award as "clowns" and punishing Norway with diplomatic retaliation. Liu remains in prison and his wife under house arrest to prevent her discussing the situation.

Mo Yan's subject matter has often flirted with the politically taboo.

His latest novel, 2009's "Frog", for example, is a searing depiction of China's "one child" population control policy and the local officials who ruthlessly implement it with forced abortions and sterilisations.

"Frog" and other novels sold out before the award in some bookshops and Chinese online booksellers on anticipation he would win, according to state media.

Mo Yan, however, has deftly managed to avoid serious trouble with Communist authorities, in part due to his position as a deputy chair of the writers association.

He Jianming, the association official, called Mo Yan "a good friend of ours".

While the imprisoned Liu could not leave China to receive his prize, Mo Yan indicated he may travel to Sweden for the literature award.

"As for whether I will go to Sweden to accept the prize, I will be waiting for the notice and arrangements of the organisation committee," China News Service quoted him saying.

China's government criticised the literature prize awarded to author Gao Xingjian in 2000, the only other Chinese-language writer to win the award. Gao had fled China in the 1980s and took French citizenship in 1997.

Beijing also loudly denounced the 1989 peace prize for the exiled Dalai Lama, whom it considers a separatist.

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China dissident criticizes literature Nobel
Washington (AFP) Oct 11, 2012 - Prominent Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng on Thursday criticized the awarding of the Nobel literature prize to officially tolerated author Mo Yan, saying the move was meant to please Beijing.

Wei, often considered the father of China's modern democracy movement, praised Mo Yan's skill as a writer but questioned his actions including copying by hand part of a speech by late leader Mao Zedong for a commemorative book.

Saying that China also had other talented writers, Wei charged that the Nobel committee chose Mo Yan because his selection would be "more tolerated by the communist regime."

"Thus this award is not really based on true skill in literature but a reflection of the will of big business," Wei, who lives in exile in Washington, told AFP.

"Just look at the elated hype on the Nobel prize by the Chinese government before and after the announcement. We could tell that this prize was awarded for the purpose of pleasing the communist regime and is thus not noteworthy," he said.

In announcing the first Nobel literature prize to a Chinese national, the Swedish Academy said that it was honoring Mo Yan for using "fantasy and reality, historical and social perspectives" to create worlds reminiscent of William Faulkner and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

The award won wide praise in China's state-controlled media, which two years earlier imposed a blackout after the Nobel committee in Norway awarded the prestigious peace prize to dissident writer Liu Xiaobo.

Unlike Mo Yan, Liu has run afoul of the Chinese system. Authorities arrested Liu in 2008 and sentenced him to 11 years in jail on Christmas Day 2009 after he authored a pro-democracy manifesto known as Charter 08.

Wei, who has been tipped in the past for the Nobel Peace Prize and has criticized Liu as too accommodating, is a former electrician who boldly put up a poster urging democracy and signed his name to it after Mao's death in 1976.

Wei spent 18 years in prison, partially on death row, until he was allowed to go into exile in 1997 after intervention by then US president Bill Clinton.

Another US-based dissident, Chai Ling, said she was hopeful after the Nobel literature prize, noting that state media embraced Mo Yan even though his latest novel "Frog" depicted China's one-child policy and the local officials who ruthlessly implement it with forced abortions and sterilizations.

"I hope that Mo Yan's thoughtful criticism of the one-child policy will help others see its role in causing gendercide," she said in a statement.

Chai Ling, a leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square revolt, is the founder of the advocacy group All Girls Allowed, which fights against gender-selective abortions under the one-child policy by parents who do not want girls.


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Mo Yan of China wins Nobel Literature Prize
Stockholm (AFP) Oct 11, 2012
Mo Yan, one of China's leading writers of the past half-century, on Thursday won the Nobel Literature Prize for his writing that mixes folk tales, history and the contemporary, the Swedish Academy announced. At 57 he became the first Chinese national to win the prize, and the initial official reaction indicated it would be held up as a victory for China, in sharp contrast to Beijing's angry ... read more

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