An open letter to the Nobel Committee for Literature

Via Enrisco:

An open letter to the Nobel Committee for Literature by exiled Chinese writer Liao Yiwu:

Berlin, November 25, 2012
An Open Letter to the Nobel Committee for Literature
Ladies and gentlemen of the Nobel Committee for Literature,

As an exiled Chinese writer, I understand that my personal feelings cannot be used as criteria for the Nobel Prize in literature. But despite that, please allow me to raise my serious doubts about the character, as well as the writings, of Mo Yan, the man you chose to be the recipient of 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature.

As knowledgeable as you all are, it seems to me that you don’t have a real sense of how much evil the Chinese Communist Party has done, and it is due to this deficiency that you ended up selecting Mo Yan, a writer who succeeded in becoming the deputy president of the Party-controlled China Writers Association. Knowingly or not, you are now sharing the same opinion of Mo Yan with the Chinese Communist Party. Here is how Li Changchun, the propaganda tsar of the party and a member of the Party’s Politburo Standing Committee until last month, congratulated Mo Yan: Mo’s “victory reflects the prosperity and progress of Chinese literature, as well as the increasing influence of China” (see appendix 1).

How many Chinese have died, and how many more have been stripped of their freedom to express and to believe, under the party’s rule, in 1949, 1952, 1955, 1957, 1958 (the year I was born), 1959 to 1962, 1966, 1989, and until this day! As the guideline for how writers and artists should serve the Party, Mao’s Talks at the Yen’an Forum on Literature and Art devastated several generations of Chinese writers, at least those who are guided by conscience, and effectively announced the death of Chinese literature. Yet one of your committee members, to my dismay, argues that the Talks was itself a good document, helped to produce literature of rural life such as that of Zhao Shuli and Sun Li, but was unfortunately misappropriated later. First of all, the so-called literature of rural life as represented by Zhao and Sun was in fact literature by assignment that served nothing else but the party’s agenda to re-mold the intelligentsia in the name of the proletariate. For example, do you consider Xiao Erher’s Marriageliterature? Mo Yan’s participation in handcopying the Talks earlier this year is a matter of integrity. He did it of his own choice, while more than 20 writers in the CWA declined to do so, including Wang Anyi who was also a deputy president of the CWA. Mo Yan did it because he is a cynic, and the paragraphs he chose to handcopy reflected his desire to please the Party (see appendix 2).

He is said to have even penned a poem to sing Bo Xilai’s praise when the latter was at the height of his power and fame (see appendix 3).

As writers of the younger generation have pointed out, over the course of 20 years since the June 4th Movement in 1989, Mo Yan has had a meteoric rise in the Party-controlled literary scene and commands an enormous audience, but he has never expressed any views or concerns about abuses in China either openly or inside the circle of writers.

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2 thoughts on “An open letter to the Nobel Committee for Literature

  1. He’s wasting his time. The Nobel people think they know better about the Chinese situation than he does. They think they’re far more sophisticated and enlightened. Sound familiar? He is, of course, right to call them on it, but it’s basically casting pearls before swine.

  2. Mao’s “Talks” recall Fidel’s comparable words to Cuban artists and intellectuals early on: “With the revolution, everything; against the revolution, nothing.” In other words, toe the party line or else.

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