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Let’s be realistic about Nobel Prize prospects

By Yu Jincui (Global Times)

08:27, October 08, 2012

This year's Nobel Prize season kicks off on Monday, with most of the speculation in the run-up focusing on who will be the winner or winners of the peace and literature prizes.

This year, for the prize in literature, betting agencies such as British bookmaker Ladbrokes and Sweden's Unibet put Japan's Haruki Murakami and Chinese author Mo Yan in the top two places as possible winners. Speculation of Mo being among the top candidates has drawn much attention and caused much excitement among some Chinese.

For over 100 years, the names of Chinese authors have been absent from the list of winners for the Nobel Prize in Literature. The prize for 2000 was awarded to Gao Xingjian, a French-Chinese dissident writer who left China in 1987. But Gao, whose works were criticized by some as favoring the West and catering to Western values, was greatly controversial domestically. Mo, however, is one of the most widely read writers in China and is a typical Chinese author in the traditional sense. His works reflect a vivid and real grass-roots China.

Success in establishing itself as an authority through the scientific field of the Nobel Prize has also granted non-scientific prizes with international recognition.

Take the literature prize: the Chinese have long hoped that a Chinese author could win that award. However, a notable fact is that non-scientific Nobel prizes, especially the peace prize, have been increasingly tainted with politics in recent years. The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Dalai Lama and Liu Xiaobo, and also to US President Barack Obama in 2009, are all examples that were very controversial in the world.

Chinese should be aware that by selecting the winning author the Nobel Prize in Literature has a strong influence over the political and cultural life of one country, as elements such as values, aesthetic and moral standards and national spirit are the core of the works.

As the other Chinese winners have demonstrated, mainstream Chinese values are hardly compatible with the choices of the Nobel Prize committee.

Mo is quite calm in the face of the heated discussions about his being a possible winner, and so are many other Chinese authors toward the Nobel literature prize. It would be gratifying if Mo wins the prize, but if he fails, it's nothing serious. Toward Nobel prizes, Chinese need more calmness.

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