“Intellectuals Haven’t Taken Enough Responsibility”

Ian Buruma recently wrote that demanding outspoken political protest from Nobel-winning writer Mo Yan is like “trying to pluck feathers from a frog.” Author Yan Lianke, though, argues that Chinese intellectuals—himself included—should do more to stand up against censorship and for reform. From Tania Branigan at The Guardian:

He […] criticised the intelligentsia – including last year’s Nobel literature prize-winner Mo Yan – for failing to speak out on important issues. “Chinese intellectuals haven’t taken enough responsibility. They always have an excuse, saying they don’t have a reason to talk or don’t have the environment … If they could all stand up, they would have a loud voice,” he told the Guardian.

[…] He said he had also fallen short, noting: “I understand the Chinese political and cultural environment well. I understand people who don’t use their voice. As an intellectual and author I should require myself to do it first. If I don’t do enough, I can’t require other authors to do so. There’s always a reason. There’s always one book or another; timing. But I think as an author I could have taken more responsibility and I didn’t.”

Yan’s novel Lenin’s Kisses, published in the United States last October, sees its British release this week. The book, together with several others, is reviewed by Eric Hayot at Public Books.

February 6, 2013 10:34 PM
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