Decoding the Mo Yan Fuss

Chinatown, San Francisco
Watching the Ship Traffic
2108 hrs.

The war of words that has erupted over Mo Yan‘s receipt of the Nobel Prize for Literature has been earnest and vituperative, and a fair amount of the critique has been framed so eloquently (like this excellent essay in the Kenyon Review by Anna Sun) that the casual reader might suspect that the Nobel committee suffered from its linguistic remove. Yet after reading Brendan O’Kane’s rather more balanced take on the controversy, the suspicion grows something more than literary opprobrium hides behind some of the more passionate writing on both sides.

Having failed to determine the question either way based on the arguments offered, I strolled from my hotel to the City Lights bookstore in North Beach and picked up a paperback of Mo’s Republic of Wine. After I get through Chan Koonchung’s The Fat Years, I’ll pick up Mo and let you know my take.