This year’s Nobel literature winner Mo Yan compared censorship to airport security checks, suggesting yesterday that it is sometimes necessary.
The Chinese writer said he didn’t feel that censorship should stand in the way of truth but that any defamation, or rumors, “should be censored.”
“But I also hope that censorship, per se, should have the highest principal,” Mo said at a news conference in Stockholm, where he is spending several days before receiving his prize at an awards ceremony on Monday.
Mo likened censorship to the thorough security procedures he had to go through at the airport on his way to Stockholm.
“When I was taking my flight, going through the customs ... they also wanted to check me, even taking off my belt and shoes,” he said. “But I think these checks are necessary.”
One reporter asked him: “Which one, among all your works, would you like to recommend to foreign readers?”
Mo replied: “I’d like to recommend the ‘Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out,’ a story not only featuring imagination and fairy-tale but also the history of modern China.”
The work of fiction examines China’s development during the latter half of the 20th century through the eyes of a landowner in the author’s hometown who is killed and reincarnated as various farm animals.
Another asked: “Some other Nobel Prize Laureates arrive here in luxury cars to receive the prize but you walked here with your wife. What do you think about fortune and life?”
Mo answered: “My father once said ‘Mo Yan is a farmer’s son.’ Always a farmer’s son, before accepting the prize and after it.”
Asked if there was any connection between the award and the country’s efforts to promote Chinese culture, he commented: “To accept the prize is my own business ... The Nobel Prize in Literature is always awarded to a writer rather than any state.”
Mo, one of China’s leading contemporary writers, is the first Chinese national to be awarded the coveted honor.
The 57-year-old, whose real name is Guan Moye, is perhaps best-known abroad for his 1987 novella “Red Sorghum,” a tale of the brutal violence that plagued the China countryside — where he grew up — during the 1920s and 30s.
The story was later made into a film by Chinese director Zhang Yimou.
In a style influenced by the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mo has written many other acclaimed works including “Big Breasts and Wide Hips” and “Republic of Wine.”
He has also written dozens of other novels, novellas, and short stories, generally eschewing contemporary issues in favour of China’s tumultuous 20th century history.
His latest novel, 2009’s “Frog”, is a searing depiction of China’s one-child policy and the local officials who ruthlessly implement it with forced abortions and sterilizations.
Mo said he was “overjoyed and terrified” at the award. “Winning the Nobel prize has stunned me, as I always thought it was very distant for me.”