Nobel Prize laureate Mo Yan (莫言) on Saturday said that despite a widespread belief in China that Taiwan is mired in a permanent state of chaos, he was surprised to find that such a scenario is limited to lawmakers in the legislature.
The Chinese author, who has been visiting Taiwan to promote his new book, Grand Ceremony, made the remarks after spending a week traveling around the country.
Mo said that Chinese are led to believe that Taiwanese live in horrid conditions and without moral standards in their business practices, but he found the opposite to be true.
He praised Taiwanese for being friendly and having a strong sense of morality and solidarity.
On a visit to the National Palace Museum in Taipei, for example, he was touched by the volunteer guides who showed tourists around out of simple enthusiasm.
Speaking about writing, Mo said that Chinese works under communist rule have been extremely dramatized so the heroes and villains are always distinctly identifiable. It was not until later that he realized he could play around with those archetypes and “write the good guys as bad guys and the bad guys as good guys.”
All heroes have dark sides to them and by embracing their vulnerabilities, he can make them more human and more convincing, Mo said.
He believes that villains, too, have families of their own despite their failings, and even the Japanese forces that occupied China during the Second Sino-Japanese War — a common faceless antagonist in contemporary Chinese fiction — had a human side to them.
People need to be written about as people, regardless of class and political inclination and their humanity should be fully portrayed, he said.
Mo, China’s first Nobel literature winner, was described by the award’s parent organization the Swedish Academy as a writer “who, with hallucinatory realism, merges folk tales, history and the contemporary.”
Known for his vivid characters and magical realism, the 58-year-old has published dozens of novels and short stories, many set in his native Shandong Province.
He rose to fame with his 1987 novel Red Sorghum, which focuses on the struggles of peasants during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
Some of his most popular works are The Republic of Wine and Big Breasts and Wide Hips.