Mo Yan honors the writers he calls his teachers

By Diao Ying in Stockholm ( China Daily ) Updated: 2012-12-11 10:24:26

Hokan Friberg, a Swedish teacher of the Chinese language, recalls being surprised when he saw the film in 1988.

"Before that, I thought all Chinese movies were boring, and this movie changed that impression," Friberg says.

Related: Nobel laureate nostalgic for youth and red sorghum

He believes the film stands out for Mo Yan's story, and its cinematography and directing.

Hannes Snndin, a 16-year-old Swedish student, who started studying Chinese last semester, says: "Maybe I will read his book in the future."

But it's unclear if the film can keep pace with today's attention spans.

Swedish student Herman Hojsgaard, 16, says: "It's a bit slow."

While talking to the Swedish students, Mo Yan paid homage to Chinese authors from whom he'd learned. He gave special praise to two-time Nobel nominee Shen Congwen.

"Lu Xun, Lao She and Shen Congwen - they deserve the Nobel more than me," Mo Yan says.

Related: Mo Yan pays homage to Chinese writers

He says he feels a special affinity with Shen Congwen, because they shared similar life experiences.

Both left school early and never received formal educations. Shen Congwen quit after high school, and Mo Yan finished only the fifth grade. They both joined the army after school.

Their plotlines are also similar. Both set their stories in their hometowns.

Mo Yan says he also learned how to deal with fictional characters from Shen Cong-wen, who gives all characters a humanistic touch.

Related: 'I will continue telling my stories': Mo Yan

"His works don't have purely good or bad people," Mo Yan says.

"Even gangsters and prostitutes have humane sides. I try to adopt the same approach. Showing every character as a human being demonstrates a novelist's ability."

Mo Yan says he also learned Lu Xun's depth and Lao She's humor.

"They are my teachers," he says.

"I feel ashamed the student, rather than the teachers, got the Nobel."

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