Tue, October 16, 2012

Exclusive interview: Stories are source of Mo Yan's excellent writing

2012-10-16 05:53:19 GMT2012-10-16 13:53:19(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BEIJING, Oct. 16 (Xinhuanet) -- Mo Yan, the first native Chinese writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, has landed in the media’s spotlight. CCTV reporter Dong Qian paid a visit to Mo’s hometown in Shandong and talked with the 57-year-old writer.

Dong Qian said, "I always feel that a writer is like a hen, and his works are like eggs. We may not always wonder what the hen looks like while we eat eggs. But this time, it’s a golden egg. So naturally, everybody becomes curious about this hen who laid a golden egg. That’s why you’ve drawn so much attention."

Mo Yan said, "If it’s a nice looking hen, it worth some attention. But if it’s only the egg that is shiny, don’t waste your time looking at the hen."

On 11 October 2012, the Swedish Academy announced that Mo Yan had received the Nobel Prize in Literature for his work, described as hallucinatory realism merging into folk tales, history and the contemporary".

Dong Qian: Do you think their evaluation is in accord with your own judgement?

Mo Yan said, "I think they understood my novels. I don’t know that it’s accurate to say my works are the fusion of hallucinatory realism and folk tales. I’d rather say it merges fiction and folk stories, social problems and historical events. Maybe that’s more accurate."

Overnight, news about the Chinese author filled the front page of almost every Chinese newspaper, magazine and website. But for the writer himself, the process has brought in a wave of uncertainty.

Mo Yan said, "When I heard that I won the Nobel Prize, I was pleasantly surprised and frightened."

Dong Qian: Pleasantly surprised means you were very happy?

Mo Yan said, "Yes, indeed. Firstly, I was surprised because I was not expecting to receive this award. I was happy because I’m the prize winner after all. But I was frightened because I still have no idea how to handle this. There was so much press, and as a nobel winner, I don’t know if it will cause more people stare at me and find my faults. That’s why I’m frightened."

Mo Yan’s novels, such as "The Red Sorghum," "Sandalwood Death", "Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out", and "Frog" are among the most popular within international communities.

Dong Qian: Your works were translated and published into other languages, do you believe that those versions can still portray the ideas you are trying to convey?

Mo Yan said, "There is no way to make sure of that. Readers are similar everywhere. There must be some people who love my works and some who don’t. I can’t push them. So in fact, every writer picks their own readers."

Mo Yan was born in 1955, in a rural area in Shandong Province. In his early years, he experienced poverty, hunger and was repressed by a particularly harsh father. He didn’t have chance to read many books, but folk stories told by local people became the root of Mo Yan’s later writings.

Mo Yan said, "I always listened to stories told by elders, including fairy tales, legends, history, battles in one area, legendary people in another, and disasters they’d heard of."

Dong Qian: Were they helpful for your writing?

Mo Yan said, "They are the source of my writing. I put almost all of them into my novels. Dozens of years of life in the village became my own treasure. You will not find it useful if you’re not a writer. But as a writer myself, it’s extraordinarily valuable and important. I think that’s the main reason why my novels are different from others. If I had grown up reading classic novels, I wouldn’t have become Mo Yan."

Mo Yan’s novels have already sold out in many Chinese book stores. The craze has led to a growing interest in the publishing field as well.

Mo Yan said, "This is abnormal. Everything will return to normal after a while."

Dong Qian: Don’t you feel happy? You’ve just had a spike in your income.

Mo Yan said, "I always a bit nervous when my novel’s sales increase. The more they sell, the more I’m frightened. Many readers will assume that the works of the Nobel Prize winner must be the best of the best, the cream of the crop. I’m afraid they may feel disappointed by my works."

Mo Yan’s win ignited many Chinese peoples’ interests in literature. But the author has his own opinion.

Dong Qian: Do you think winning the Nobel Prize will promote the growth of Chinese literature, or will everything go back to normal?

Mo Yan said, "It will soon go away. People will go back to their old ways."

Dong Qian: Do you think more people will be interested in literature?

Mo Yan said, "The change is just short term. This will slowly fade, and all will move forward following the nature of life."

(Source: CNTV.cn)


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