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How did China's Mo Yan win the Nobel Prize for literature? (+video)

While many including China's Communist Party celebrated their countryman's receipt of the Nobel Prize for literature, others criticized the winner, Mo Yan, for failing to be innovative or independent. 

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"My works are Chinese literature, which is part of world literature. They show the life of Chinese people as well as the country's unique culture and folk customs," Mo told reporters in his hometown, Xinhua news agency reported.

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The last Chinese-born winner was Gao Xingjian in 2000, although he was living in France by that time and had taken French citizenship. His Nobel was not celebrated by the Chinese government.

China has 'waited too long' 

Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily praised the win in a commentary on its website (

"This is the first Chinese writer who has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Chinese writers have waited too long, the Chinese people have waited too long," it wrote.

Mo, a vice chairman of the government-backed Chinese Writers' Association, said he had nothing to say about Liu Xiaobo, the jailed dissident who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 and whose name has been banned from public discussion in China.

"His winning won't be of any help for Liu Xiaobo, unless Mo Yan expresses his concern for him," said Ai Weiwei.

"But Mo Yan has stated in the past that he has nothing to say about Liu Xiaobo. I think the Nobel organisers have removed themselves from reality by awarding this prize. I really don't understand it."

Beijing-based writer Mo Zhixu said Mo Yan, who once copied out by hand a speech by Chairman Mao Zedong for a commemorative book, "doesn't have any independent personality."

Yu Shicun, a Beijing-based essayist and literary critic, said Mo Yan was a puzzling choice for the prize.

"I don't think this makes sense," said Yu in a telephone interview. "His works are from the 1980s, when he was influenced by Latin American literature. I don't think he's created his own things. We don't see him as an innovator in Chinese literature."

On the streets of Beijing, there was pride in Mo's achievement.

"I think this is an unprecedented breakthrough, because before this they spoke of Chinese nationals getting the Nobel prize, but it was only the peace prize, never the others such as the literature, the physics and chemistry prizes," said Xu Jiebiao, 28-year-old IT consultant.

"So a Chinese getting the Nobel prize for literature will increase the national pride."

The literature prize is the fourth of this year's crop of prizes, which were established in the will of Swedish dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel and awarded for the first time in 1901.

The writer, who was in the People's Liberation Army before progressing to academia, was one of the favourites to win the award this year, according to British bookmaker Ladbrokes, along with Japanese author Haruki Murakami.

(Additional reporting by Johan Ahlander, Simon Johnson, Anna Ringstrom, Niklas Pollard, Sui-Lee Wee, Ben Blanchard and Lucy Hornby; Writing by Giles Elgood; Editing by Peter Millership)

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