Zhang Lijia

The Nobel prize winner 2012 for literature Mo Yan has been criticized by some, because he is not taking enough distance from the Chinese government. Nonsense, says author Zhang Lijia in the LA Times and the Voice of America. “Literature is literature.”

LA Times:

Zhang Lijia, a writer based in Beijing, shrugged off the criticism that Mo Yan was too accepting of censorship.

“Literature is literature. Somebody shouldn’t be disqualified because he isn’t sufficiently critical of the government,” said Zhang, “Some of Mo Yan’s work is quite imaginative, although it could use some editing.

“They’ll say I’m unpatriotic,” Zhang added, “but if I were a judge, I’d have voted for Haruki Murakami,” referring to the Japanese writer who was another contender.

Despite the criticism, Mo Yan’s writing has touched on some of the most sensitive topics in China. In his 11th novel, “Frog,” published in 2009, he wrote about a midwife confronting the forced sterilizations and late-term abortions demanded by the Communist Party’s one-child policy.

In a 2010 interview with Time magazine, Mo Yan spoke almost cheerfully about censorship, suggesting at one point that it made him a better writer.

“One of the biggest problems in literature is the lack of subtlety. A writer should bury his thoughts deep and convey them through the characters in his novel,” he said. “There are certain restrictions on writing in every country.”

In the VOA:

“I don’t agree with such views and personally I resent the over-politicization of literature,” said Zhang.  “I think that literature should be treated as literature. For many years in China literature has been very politicized, it is part of a propaganda tool, literature should be just literature and his receiving of the award should just be based on literary merits.”

Zhang says she hopes Mo Yan’s prestigious award brings some vitality to China’s literary scene, which lags behind the country’s economic achievements.

More in LA Times and the VOA.

Zhang Lijia is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

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