Literary prizes or farcical awards

Updated: 2011-08-16 08:49

(China Daily)

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The winners of the 8th Mao Dun Literary Prize have been announced, and eight of the top 10 on the list are chairpersons or vice-chairpersons of provincial writers' association. This is not new, for other literary prize committees have announced similar lists before. But the standard of a literary prize becomes doubtful if its most winners are officials, says an article in Guangzhou Daily. Excerpts:

Official status cannot and should not be a criterion for literary excellence. That's why people doubt the authenticity of prizes that are awarded to officials for their literary achievements. According to some media reports, even some national literary awards have been awarded to officials.

Prizes in other fields such as those for science and technology, too, have been awarded to officials. No wonder, people are questioning the evaluation process and standards of such awards.

Many high-ranking officials and executives in State-owned enterprises have figured among the winners that the Chinese Academy of Engineering announced earlier this year, leaving the public confused as to whether awards depended on the level of power wielded by an official.

Mao Dun used to be minister of culture, chairman of Writers Association and the vice-president of Chinese People's Political Consultative Committee, which are very high-level official posts. But after he became an official he did not get enough time to create the wonderful works that he used to, and was never considered for a prize.

But in today's scheme of things, he might have dominated the prizes. Would that be acceptable?