Opinion / From the Press

Mo Yan's success raises questions on future of Chinese literature

(chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2012-12-12 21:51

Mo Yan, the first Chinese winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, has given a lecture at a Swedish Academy in Stockholm on storytellers. The speech has given the world a new understanding of Chinese literature, and explained the unity between Chinese originality and Western culture, says an article from the Guangming Daily. Excerpts:

When taking about the  future of Chinese literature in Sweden, Mo Yan said there is no need to be pessimistic about the prospects of serious literature, so long as there are readers for his creations.

Mo's optimism reflects a writer's confidence in literature. However, the people's enthusiasm for his work does not illustrate the bigger picture. The grim fact is that reading among Chinese people continues to shrink.

According to statistics, the number of printed books read by Chinese people aged between 18 and 70 is 4.35 per capita, much less than that of 11 books per capita in the Republic Of Korea, 20 books in France, and 40 in Japan.

This has not escaped the attention of Mo Yan. He once said that he wished "Chinese people could read more books".

China used to boast a rich culture of poetry and books, but now the country seems to have contracted the disease of reading fatigue. Many bookstores either just make ends meet or are closing down. Readers in libraries and bookstores are mostly the elderly and children, as young people seem to be too busy to read.

People live at a frantic pace. Computers can partly substitute the work of human brains; the Internet updates people with news and information; planes and high-speed trains take a person from one place to another at any time. Fast reading and utility reading have become the norm — at the expense of quality reading.

We need to pursue an ideal way of reading where people love to slow down and listen to the "storytellers" from the heart.

The awarding of the Nobel Prize to Mo should not be over-interpreted, but Mo's success and his speech open up opportunities to the Chinese people to meditate on the pace of life in modern society and promote Chinese literature abroad.

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