The marketing of Mo Yan

by on October 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink

What is it like to win an (approved) Nobel Prize in China?:

On Tuesday, Fan Hui, a local official, paid a visit to Mr Mo’s father to ask him to renovate the family home.

“Your son is no longer your son, and the house is no longer your house,” urged Mr Fan, according to the Beijing News, explaining that the author was now the pride of China. “It does not really matter if you agree or not,” he added.

Mr Fan has earmarked the family home as the main attraction of the “Mo Yan Culture Experience Zone”, but also has plans to create a theme park based on Mr Mo’s 1987 work, Red Sorghum.

Unwanted and unprofitable, Sorghum is no longer planted in the area, but this not regarded as an obstacle…

“One visitor dug up a radish [from Mr Mo’s vegetable patch],” reported the Beijing News. “He slipped it into his coat and showed it to villagers afterwards, saying: ‘Mo’s radish! Mo’s radish!’ ”

“A visiting mother picked some yams and told her daughter: ‘I’ll boil them, so you can eat them and win the Nobel prize too!'” Mr Mo’s brother, Guan Moxin, was forced to intervene to stop the family’s corn harvest, which was left lying out in the sun to dry, being swept away by the village tidying committee.

Mr Mo himself has been non-commital amid the excitement. Asked by China Central Television whether he was happy, he responded: “I do not know”.

Asked by Xinhua, the state news agency, whether his win would ignite a passion for literature in China, he said: “I think it will last for a month at most, maybe less, then everything will return to normal”.

He said he planned to use his £750,000 of prize money to buy a “big house” in Beijing. But then he realised that property prices have soared so high he could only afford a two-bedroom apartment.

Here is more, interesting throughout, and here is a related story.  Hat tip goes to Literary Saloon.

GC October 21, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Why does everything I read about the thoughts/actions of Chinese people and officials seem so strange/socially awkward/artificial? Is it a cultural, political, or economic difference, a translation artifact, or a reporting bias? I would lean towards one of the former, as I’ve noticed similar trends in reading about what people in other less developed/less free nations say.

Mike October 21, 2012 at 9:29 pm

What is “strange/socially awkward/artificial” here other than the behavior of an official from an authoritarian government?

Thor October 21, 2012 at 11:40 pm

Exactly. The official demonstrates zero irony in stating what he no doubt believes: that the author and his accomplishments belong to the state.

prior_approval October 22, 2012 at 12:53 am

USA USA USA – such chanting is only a sign of social harmony in the world’s greatest nation, and has nothing to do with something which has been referred to as the manufacturing of the consent.

From the outside, America looks quite strange – for example, how everyone at a sporting event rises to the national anthem (for many non-Americans, even playing the National Anthem seems quite out of place), often with hands over their hearts. Another, slightly less general, observation made by many foreign exchange students, is how they were expected (in numerous cases, ‘coerced’ is a perfectly accurate term) to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance, though obviously, they were not American citizens.

Andrew' October 22, 2012 at 6:31 am

PA,

This is a specific observation about China. I’d describe it as a pre-occupation with appearance and PR while lacking a self-awareness of how transparently nonsensical those attempts sometimes are.

It’s kind like who does the iL du jour of N.Korea (I hope our boys are back) think he’s fooling with his 100,000 person performances, maybe just himself?

Andrew' October 22, 2012 at 6:24 am

GC, I was going to ask the exact same question, as in
“Are all Chinese people like all the Chinese people we hear about?”

PA
I haven’t said the pledge in years (you must be referring to public schools), the last time at a hate group meeting where they didn’t even bat an eyelash at conscientious objectors.

Cliff October 22, 2012 at 10:17 am

“the last time at a hate group meeting…”

Wait, what?

Andreas Moser October 22, 2012 at 6:34 am

Strange country.
And I still don’t know which book by Mo Yan to read: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/the-mo-yan-poll/

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