The True Story of Lu Xun

Geremie R. Barmé from New York Review of Books
1.Addressing an audience at the Hong Kong YMCA in February 1927, the writer Lu Xun (the pen name of Zhou Shuren, 1881–1936) warned that despite ten years of literary revolution and the promotion of a written vernacular language, Chinese people had...

Excerpts

03.22.16

Beyond ‘Chicken or Beef’ Choices in China Debates

Jeffrey Wasserstrom
Growing up in California with no special interest in China, one of the few things I associated with the big country across the Pacific was mix-and-match meal creation. On airplanes and in school cafeterias, you just had “chicken or beef” choices,...

Culture

05.09.13

“I Just Want to Write”

Whether or not I deserved the Nobel Prize, I already received it, and now it’s time to get back to my writing desk and produce a good work. I hear that the 2013 list of Nobel Prize nominees has been finalized. I hope that once the new laureate is...

Sinica Podcast

03.08.13

Mo Yan and the Nobel Prize

Kaiser Kuo, David Moser & more from Sinica Podcast
When Chinese author Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize for literature last year, many critics were fast to pounce on his selection, accusing the committee of making a political choice that glossed over what many consider to be pervasive self-censorship in...

Mo Yan Grants First Interview Since Winning Nobel Prize

Anthony Tao
Beijing Cream
A look at the highlights from a Der Spiegel interview with Mo, covering Ai Weiwei’s and Liao Yiwu’s criticism of the author, his comments on the Cultural Revolution, and his relationship with the government. 

Ordering Off the Menu in China Debates

Jeffrey Wassterstrom
Oxford University Press Blog
Mo Yan’s Nobel Prize win last fall led some foreign commentators into an “Ai Weiwei or Zhang Yimou” trap. The former is an artist locked into an antagonistic relationship with the government, the latter a filmmaker who has been...

A Meaty Tale, Carnivorous and Twisted

Dwight Garner
New York Times
Nobel laureate Mo Yan's latest novel to be issued in English, “Pow!,” is a red-toothed fantasia about meat production and meat consumption...

Out of School

12.24.12

Politics and the Chinese Language

Perry Link
The awarding of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature to the Chinese novelist Mo Yan has given rise to energetic debate, both within China’s borders and beyond. Earlier this month, ChinaFile ran an essay by Chinese literature scholar Charles Laughlin...

Why Salman Rushdie Should Pause Before Condemning Mo Yan

Pankaj Mishra
Guardian
Mo Yan, China's first Nobel laureate for literature, has been greeted withsome extraordinary hostility in the west. This week Salman Rushdie described him as a "patsy" for the Chinese government...

In the People’s Liberation Army

Mo Yan
New York Review of Books
Mo Yan, recent recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, describes an experience in the People's Liberation Army in the 1970s. This text is excerpted from his part fiction, part memoir Change...

Culture

12.11.12

Sheng Keyi on Mo Yan: “Literature Supersedes Politics and Everything Else”

In a recent conversation at the Asia Society, novelist Sheng Keyi said she felt the critism of Mo Yan’s Nobel Prize was unjustified. The controversy, she said, arises from Mo Yan’s politics rather than his literature, “and I think to critique him on...

Culture

12.11.12

Yu Jie: Awarding Mo Yan the Nobel Prize Was a “Huge Mistake”

Ouyang Bin
Mo Yan accepted his Nobel Prize for Literature in Stockholm on December 10.The 57-year-old novelist often writes stories based on memories of his village childhood, and his work and his political views have triggered wide debate. In...

Out of School

12.11.12

What Mo Yan’s Detractors Get Wrong

Charles Laughlin
When Chinese novelist Mo Yan accepted the Nobel Prize in Literature earlier this week, the relationship between literature and politics attracted much attention. The award is often given to writers who forcefully oppose political repression. When...

Mo Yan and the Hazards of Hollow Words

Evan Osnos
New Yorker
In Chinese, there are an impressive number of ways to describe saying nothing at all. When a person is determined to speak at length but not in depth, he can embark on a long jog of feihua—literally, wasted words—or perhaps pass the time at...

Perry Link: Does This Writer Deserve the Prize?

Perry Link
New York Review of Books
On October 11 Peter Englund, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy in Stockholm, announced that the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2012 will go to the fifty-seven-year-old Chinese writer Guan Moye, better known as Mo Yan, a pen name that means “...

Nobel Literature Winner Skirts Support for Dissident

Anna Molin
Wall Street Journal
Nobel literature prize winner Mo Yan dodged requests Thursday to repeat comments supportive of Chinese countryman and jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo, and said censorship may be necessary to stop the dissemination of untrue rumors and insults but that...

Does This Writer Deserve the Prize?

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
On October 11 Peter Englund, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy in Stockholm, announced that the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2012 will go to the fifty-seven-year-old Chinese writer Guan Moye, better known as Mo Yan, a pen name that means “...

China Dismisses Nobel Demands for Liu's Release

AFP
Agence France-Presse
China rejected a call from 134 Nobel laureates for the release from prison of dissident 2010 Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. 

The Headache of Mo Yan, China’s Nobel Prize Winner in Literature

Zhang Jie
Washington Post
Mo Yan had a tuxedo made for the December 10 prize gala in Stockholm and is studying the waltz, in case he's invited to dance...

Is Mo Yan a Stooge for the Chinese Government?

Brendan O'Kane...
Rectified.name
Even before the Swedish Academy announced Mo Yan as the 2012 Nobel Literature Prize winner, the Chinese internet was abuzz with discussion of his work and his relationship with the Chinese government. 

Mo Yan Calls for Liu Xiaobo’s Release

Andrew Jacobs
New York Times
Mo Yan, the new Nobel laureate who strenuously avoided antagonizing the Communist Party during much of his literary career, stepped into a political minefield on Friday by calling for the release of Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned writer and...

Mo Yan Mines a Deep Well

Richard Bernstein
New York Times
Mo Yan's work recalls a Soviet dissident's quip that in his country “reality and satire are the same.”...

Media

10.11.12

Netizens React to Mo Yan’s Nobel Prize

Ouyang Bin
Upon hearing the news that novelist Mo Yan was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature, a flurry of messages about the fifty-seven-year-old Shandong native circulated on weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, expressing decidedly mixed opinions...

Mo Yan and China's “Nobel Complex”

Evan Osnos
New Yorker
In awarding the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature to Mo Yan, the Swedish Academy has recognized one of China’s best-known writers, and also fulfilled one of the Chinese government’s most enduring pursuits: a politically tolerable Nobel laureate.&...

Features

10.11.12

Will Mo Yan’s Nobel Prize Finally Mean Better Book Sales Abroad?

Jonathan Landreth
Literature in translation in the United States has wide but shallow roots, making English language stars out of the likes of Gabriel Garcia Márquez and Haruki Murakami, but leaving most of China’s writers struggling to take hold. Now, veteran...

Nobel Prize to Novelist Mo Yan

Alan Cowell
New York Times
The Swedish Academy announced on Thursday that it had awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature to the Chinese author Mo Yan, the cultural high point of a week of accolades to scientists, writers and peacemakers.

Books

12.28.10

A Subversive Voice in China

Shelley Wing Chan
Mo Yan, the most prolific writer in present-day China as well as one of its most prominent avant-gardists, is an author whose literary works have enjoyed an enormous readership and have caught much critical attention not only in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan but also in many other countries around the world. This book provides the most comprehensive exposition of Mo Yan’s fiction in any language. Author Shelley Chan delves into Mo Yan’s entire collection of literary works, considering novels as well as short stories and novellas. In this analysis, Mo Yan’s works are dealt with in a diachronic fashion––Chan discusses the development of Mo Yan’s style throughout his career by considering themes that he has addressed in a variety of narratives over time. This provides the reader with valuable insight into understanding how individual narratives fit into the entire collection of Mo Yan’s body of literary work. Scholars will also welcome the book’s extensive reference to secondary scholarship and theory, which not only skillfully deals with the Chinese scholarship on Mo Yan but also thoroughly covers the English-language sources. This book on one of the most important figures in contemporary Chinese literary history will be a landmark resource for scholars in Asian studies, cultural studies, and literary criticism, as well as an enticing read for people interested in Chinese literature and historical fiction.  —Cambria Press