Mo Yan and the Technicians of Culture

Novelists and poets, however, are not heroes in this sense, and they receive awards according to the cultural prestige they accrue based on their creative contributions to literature and culture. The Newman Prize (which Mo Yan won) and the Neustadt Prize (for which Mo Yan was nominated in 1998) are awarded, like the Nobel Prize in Literature, on an artistic basis that does not diminish peace prizes but complements them by way of further clarifying the work of our cultural heroes. Such a distinction is essential and should be vigorously protected. In such troubled times, we must remember the value writers have—the value of inventing new language to keep pace with the rapidly transforming world around us. We are not so different from the provincial characters that populate Mo Yan’s novels in our struggle to gain traction to offset the cataclysmic global forces that swirl around us. But who among us can make the unseen seen and bring the inarticulate force of pain, loss, and paralysis into blisteringly lively prose?

attached to: Mo Yan


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