It is a preposterous twist of Kafkaesque proportions that the 2012 Nobel Prize winner in literature has endorsed censorship as a necessary evil. The Chinese winner, Mo Yan, who made the pronouncement in Stockholm on Thursday, has tarnished the prize and insulted writers everywhere who are risking their lives to tell truth to power.
In retrospect, Mr. Mo’s selection was always going to be fraught. Some condemned it from the start, saying the author was too close to the government apparatus of his country. He is a member of the Communist Party and vice-president of a party-approved writers’ association. As well, he is well known for being among a select group of Chinese authors chosen to write out, in their own hand, excerpts from Mao Zedong’s (in)famous speech on the responsibilities of artists under communism for a commemorative book.