Mo Yan talks about his mother, hometown and controversy surrounding his selection as a Nobel winner on Friday. Jonas Ekstromer / Scanpix Sweden / AFP
When talking with young Swedish students, Mo Yan paid homage to Chinese authors that he learned writing from, particularly Shen Congwen, who was twice nominated for the Nobel Prize.
"Lu Xun, Laoshe, and Chen Congwen, they are more qualified for the Nobel Prize than me," he said.
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Among the writers he learned from, he said he especially felt close with Shen Congwen, who had similar life experiences with him.
Both of them left school early and did not get formal education. Shen quit after high school and Mo only finished the fifth grade. They both joined army after school. "We both learned from the book of life," said Mo.
The theme of their writing is also similar. Both writers has their hometown as the theme and root of their writings. Shen's work is mostly about his hometown, Xiangxi, and most of Mo's stories are set in his hometown, Gaomi, in Shandong province.
Mo said he also learned from Shen how to deal with characters in a fiction. Unlike most Chinese writers, Shen has a humanistic touch towards all of his characters, said Mo.
"In his works, there are no particularly bad person or good person, even gangsters and prostitutes have their humane side," he said.
"I try to adopt the same approach in my writing. It shows the ability of a novelist when he treat all the characters as humans," he said.
Mo said he also learned Luxun's depth and Laoshe's humor. "They are all my teachers, and I am the student," he said. "I feel ashamed from from my heart that teachers did not get the prize, and the student got it."