“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.

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