Anger as Nobel winner Mo Yan defends Chinese censorship
Salman Rushdie calls author a 'patsy' as he compares censorship to airport security
CHINESE author Mo Yan, the controversial winner of this year's Nobel Prize for literature, may have proved his critics right. On the eve of picking up the award, he used an event in Stockholm yesterday to defend state censorship, comparing it to airport security checks.
Mo, already under fire from fellow writers for belonging to the Chinese Communist Party, has also refused to join other Nobel prize-winners in signing a petition calling for the release of his compatriot Liu Xiaobo, the jailed 2010 Peace Prize laureate.
The author was speaking through an interpreter in Stockholm when he said he believed censorship was acceptable to prevent defamation and rumours from being spread.
As the Associated Press reports, he then compared censorship to the security procedures he had undergone en route to Stockholm. "When I was taking my flight, going through the customs... they also wanted to check me – even taking off my belt and shoes. But I think these checks are necessary."
The comments "appear unlikely to soften his critics' views toward him," AP noted, while Salon.com reported that Salman Rushdie had already expressed anger at Mo's comments, and dismissed him as a "patsy" for the Chinese government.
"This really is too bad,” said Rushdie on Facebook. "He defends censorship and won't sign the petition asking for the freedom of his fellow Nobelist Liu Xiaobo. Hard to avoid the conclusion that Mo Yan is the Chinese equivalent of the Soviet Russian apparatchik writer Mikhail Sholokhov: a patsy of the regime."
LA Times book blogger Carolyn Kellogg described Mo's comments as "disappointing" and said he seemed to be "tipping in an unfortunate direction".
Mo was the first Chinese author to win the literature prize, which he is due to collect on Monday. The Swedish Academy described him as a writer in the mould of William Faulkner and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, "who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary".
But the decision to honour him was criticised by Chinese dissidents including artist Ai Weiwei. Last month Herta Mueller, the 2009 literature laureate, called the jury's choice of Mo a "catastrophe".