Mo Yan’s speech at the Nobel Banquet, 10 December 2012*
Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,
For me, a farm boy from Gaomi’s Northeast Township in far-away China, standing here in this world-famous hall after having received the Nobel Prize in Literature feels like a fairy tale, but of course it is true.
My experiences during the months since the announcement have made me aware of the enormous impact of the Nobel Prize and the unquestionable respect it enjoys. I have tried to view what has happened during this period in a cool, detached way. It has been a golden opportunity for me to learn about the world and, even more so, an opportunity for me to learn about myself.
I am well aware that there are many writers in the world who would be more worthy Laureates than I. I am convinced that if they only continue to write, if they only believe that literature is the ornament of humanity and a God-given right, “She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.” (Proverbs 4:9)
I am also well aware that literature only has a minimal influence on political disputes or economic crises in the world, but its significance to human beings is ancient. When literature exists, perhaps we do not notice how important it is, but when it does not exist, our lives become coarsened and brutal. For this reason, I am proud of my profession, but also aware of its importance
I want to take this opportunity to express my admiration for the members of the Swedish Academy, who stick firmly to their own convictions. I am confident that you will not let yourselves be affected by anything other than literature.
I also want to express my respect for the translators from various countries who have translated my work. Without you, there would be no world literature. Your work is a bridge that helps people to understand and respect each other.
Nor, at this moment, can I forget my family and friends, who have given me their support and help. Their wisdom and friendship shines through my work.
Finally, I wish to extend special thanks to my older relatives and compatriots at home in Gaomi, Shandong, China. I was, am and always will be one of you. I also thank the fertile soil that gave birth to me and nurtured me. It is often said that a person is shaped by the place where he grows up. I am a storyteller, who has found nourishment in your humid soil. Everything that I have done, I have done to thank you!
My sincere thanks to all of you!
* Arriving at the podium to give his banquet speech, Mo Yan declared that he had forgotten the written version (as sent to the Nobel Foundation for publication and subtitling) in his hotel room. The author’s given speech differs therefore in parts to the published speech.
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