- Language Tips
China's Nobel laureate in literature, Mo Yan, on May 13 began his new job as chairman of the newly established International Writing Center at Beijing Normal University.
"I hope the center will become a place where established writers from the world feel free to write or do research, or communicate with fellow writers, and with critics and students," Mo said.
"Or, it's all OK for them to do nothing, but just walk around the campus," he added.
"I believe their appearance alone shortened the distances between them and the students, and adds up to the excellent academic atmosphere on campus."
Facing fellow alumni, the Nobel Prize-winner was at ease, and more talkative than he had been under the media spotlight.
Mo gained his master's degree at the university in 1991. Established Chinese writers, including Su Tong, Yu Hua and Yan Geling, studied at the university with Mo.
BNU is among the first Chinese universities to have an I nternational writing center. And a number of Chinese writers have been guests to centers of the same kind at foreign universities, namely the Iowa University.
"Now we're to do the same to the foreign writers," Mo said, adding "it showcases the progress of China, not only in sense of its economic achievements, but also the upgrading mindset of its people and their understanding on literature".
The BNU center plans to be the foothold of international writers' exchanges in the country, while being home to Sinologists and foreign translators of Chinese literature, and cradling younger generation of writers, said its managing chair, Zhang Qinghua.
Veteran Chinese writer Jia Pingwa was named on the same day as the first stay-on-campus writer of the center. To that, the Shaanxi province-based writer said he's planning to move to the capital for a while to create and share his literary thoughts.
Tie Ning, chair of China Writers Association, said the center will boost Chinese literature's going global, and "will present Chinese life and Chinese dreams".
The center became a new focus in international literary scene.
University of Oklahoma President David Boren sent a letter to congratulate the center's establishment and having a Nobel laureate as its chairman.
At home, critics and researchers take it as a starting point from where Chinese writers can embrace the world fervently.
On the occasion of the center's opening, a forum on "Chinese literature going global" gathered dozens of the country's top writers, critics and researchers to discuss Chinese literature and its place in the world.
While some contribute to the paths of a wider acceptance of Chinese literature among global audience, others like Chen Fumin, with Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and Zhang Ning, with BNU, hold that Chinese literature is already an important part of world literary scene, which we need not to be anxious about.
Veteran critic Meng Fanhua points out that Chinese literature is now in the Western mainstream.
"To that, Mo Yan's Nobel win is an indication of Chinese literature being recognized by the West," Meng said.
Mo said he'd rather not referring to his winning as an indicator.
"I'm a writer who's no different with other writers, who happened to get extra public attention because of random factors," Mo said.
"I said this and would like to repeat: There are many Chinese writers who deserve the prize other than me," he added.
Mo believes that Chinese literature already has reached a wide range of international audience.
"After decades of opening up, Chinese literature has achieved a lot. And it's the right time for we to make more effort to promote its influence outside," he said.
"The real indicator to me is that there will be more international readers to Chinese literature who can sympathize with Chinese writings from deep down, and whose souls get more beautiful after reading our works," he added.