Mo Yan, China's new Nobel winner, says he wants 'freedom' for jailed fellow laureate Liu Xiaobo


Chinese author Mo Yan autographs his book before taking part in a reading at the 61st Frankfurt Book Fair in Frankfurt October 15, 2009, where China is this year's guest of honour. Some 6,900 exhibitors from around 100 countries are to gather in Frankfurt until October 18.


John MacDougall

A day after being feted by China's communist authorities for his Nobel prize in literature, writer Mo Yan voiced cautious support for one of the state's least favorite people: jailed dissident Liu Xiao. 

Mo told journalists in his northern hometown of Gaomi that he had read some of Liu's 1980s work, but was unfamiliar with his more political material, which lead to a 2009 conviction on charges of rebelling against the state, said Reuters

Still, "I hope he can achieve his freedom as soon as possible," Mo said of fellow winner Liu, whose 2010 Nobel Peace Prize angered the country's Communist authorities, reported Reuters.

By contrast, Mo was lauded in state media for winning this year's Nobel Prize in literature, the first Chinese national to win the $1.2 million literary award, according to the Guardian.

More from GlobalPost: Syria author Samar Yazbek wins PEN award for courage

Chinese-born author Gao Xingjian won in 2000, but he is now a French citizen.

China's persecuted opposition establishment was not as enthusiastic about the historic win by Mo, who serves as the vice-chairman of the pro-establishment China Writers' Association, according to BBC News

The writer was also among 100 Chinese literary notables who hand-wrote a major Mao Zedong speech on the ways in which art should serve the state, an event that the Guardian said prompted "'accusations that they had sold their souls.'"

Prominent dissident artist Ai Weiwei denounced Mo's win as an "insult to humanity," according to the Independent. "He has been very clearly pursuing the party's line and in several cases he has shown no respect for the independence of intellectuals," the artist told the Guardian

Western audiences are most familiar with Mo Yan's book “Red Sorghum,” later made into a film by Chinese director Zhang Yimou, Reuters reported. Mo's other books include "Big Breasts and Wide Hips" and "The Republic of Wine."

The 57-year-old was born into a peasant family in the eastern province of Shandong and was forced to quit school and herd cattle during the Cultural Revolution. 

Mo is referred to by his pen name, which means "don't speak." His actual name is Guan Moye.