By Onkar Nath:
The Chinese writer Mo Yan has won a Nobel Prize for Literature and has become the first Chinese to do so. The Committee awarding the Nobel Prize recognized the contribution of Mo Yan in the field of Chinese literature which therefore entails international recognition of the same. Winning the most coveted prize to does not only mean fame and money for the author, but the glorification of talents, a country like China holds, which is not really recognized as far as notable literary works are concerned. In fact, the Chinese government has warmly greeted Mo Yan thus giving out a pleasant sign that they are trying to be more welcoming and are ready to nurture the real gems that they possess, unlike previous instances where they disowned such people.
I would like to bring to the reader’s attention that this does not mean that the work of Mo Yan has never been critical of the Chinese government. If you read his 2009 work Frog, you will come to know the powerful description of the horrors of the family planning campaign. Another of his work in 1992, Republic of Wine, he wrote about the drinking-culture and the corruption feeding at all levels of government. Sometimes, he did face criticism from some quarters for not speaking out against censorship forcefully. But it should be noted that his criticism of the government was not enough but at least he did raise his dissent in some of his work.
Coming back to his contribution to Chinese literature: it is nothing but immense. His novels often reflected the turmoil of the 20th century China. His work Red Sorghum describes the hardships of life in rural China. This novel was also converted in to an award-winning film by renowned director Zhang Yimou. Through his work, readers can easily understand the history of China, the local tradition and the folk culture. His work also reflects his upbringing, the hardships he faced and his interaction with the society. Most of his novels and short stories have been inspired by rural China. His style of writing is a mixture of fantasy and reality, historical and social perspectives. Initially his writing came across as simple and straight-forward but lately he has started toying with other forms of writing.
One more inspiring lesson one can learn from him is his rise to fame owing to his work in a country like China, where a lot of censorship still operates. If you read about his life, you will come to know about his struggle during his childhood days. He said that his loneliness and hunger became a resource for many of his works. He grew up during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and began writing while serving in the People’s Liberation Army. To mask his identity during those days, he named himself Mo Yan which in translates into “Don’t Speak” while his original name is Guo Moye.
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