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Mo Yan's victory tests Chinese people's mentalities

(People's Daily Online)

15:38, October 15, 2012

Mo Yan (Xinhua)

The past week must have been important for Chinese writer Mo Yan, who was nominated for and won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature. Mo has been in the public spotlight since he was rumored to be nominated for the literature prize. Supporters hail Mo as an excellent Chinese writer who deserves the prize, while opponents believe that Mo should not be awarded the prize due to various defects of his works.

Mo's winning of the Nobel Prize for literature means the end of the Nobel Committee's evaluation of him, and the beginning of a test of the Chinese people's mentalities. It will test whether we Chinese can view the first Chinese citizen who has won the Nobel Prize for literature with a correct mentality.

The following three mentalities can be considered correct.

The first one is a blessing mentality. The Chinese people have long had the Nobel Prize complex, and always hoped that a Chinese citizen can be awarded a Nobel Prize. Mo's winning of the Nobel Prize for literature is in any case a gratifying thing. Mo is a unique and talented writer, and the prize is in recognition of his adherence to literature over the past several decades. It will be great if such recognition can provide other Chinese writers with hope, courage, and strength to adhere to literature, and inject some vitality into China's sluggish literary scene.

Furthermore, Mo's winning of the Nobel literature prize will promote foreigners' understanding of Chinese culture and society. China's peaceful rise relies on not only its hard power as the world's second largest economy, but also greater soft power. Literature is an important part of a country's soft power.

The second one is an ordinary mentality. Mo's winning of the literature prize is a gratifying thing, but should not be over-interpreted or overstated.

Although the Nobel Prize in Literature is the world's highest literary honor, it is still just a literature prize. Many first-class writers have failed to win the prize. The Nobel literature prize is not the sole criterion for the literary success of a writer.

Mo is the first Chinese writer to win the Nobel literature prize, but that does not make him the number one writer in China. It is easy to decide who the strongest fighter is, but hard to select the best writer. There are many other excellent writers in China. Their passionate devotion to literature deserves equal respect, and some of their outstanding works can be comparable to those of Mo. It would be inappropriate and lead to an unharmonious contrast if Mo was extolled as the best writer in China, and got all the applause and flowers simply because he won the Nobel literature prize.

The third one is a tolerant mentality, which rejects excoriation and nitpicking. Writers need a relaxing work environment, which requires both government efforts and the public's understanding and tolerance.

All in all, the authorities should not over-extol Mo for winning the Nobel literature prize, and the public should not find fault with the writer. The best way to protect Mo is to adopt the above three mentalities.

Edited and translated by Zheng Liangen, Jinan Daily

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