And. So. It. Finally. Happens.
I’m at a sushi joint, having dinner with a friend when the first sms reaches me:
”It’s Mo Yan!”
Five minutes later:
”China has won the Nobel Prize in literature!”
My friends must have been glued by their computers –thank God for them! And thank God for them telling me!
-It’s Mo Yan, it’s Mo Yan! I yell, and my dinner company looks at me in utter confusion. Contrary to what I believe, apparently not everyone follows this week’s Nobel price announcements.
We finish up dinner and I’m still… all hyped. And surprised. And, of course, happy for China. For I-don’t-know-how-long this nation has been obsessed with winning an (accepted) Nobel prize: now it has finally happened! I HAVE to talk to someone about it!
So when I catch a taxi home, I decide to be overly open and start talking to the driver:
-Have you heard the news! Are you happy! Finally, China! A Nobel prize!
-Eh, excuse me… Mr… have you heard the news?
-What? Finally I get some attention.
-About the Nobel prize in literature! Mo Yan just won it!
-The Nobel what?
-The Nobel prize!
-Nobel, nobel…. He thinks for a bit, before he says: I don’t follow that.
-But it’s Mo Yan! A Chinese author! He has won the prize this year.
-Oh, he has. OK.
-So, aren’t you happy?
-I don’t care.
We sit in silence for a bit, before he turns back to me.
-So miss, are you from Europe?
-Is that also in Europe?
-Do you know a country called France?
-Do you know a country called Luxembourg?
-Which country is the best? France or Luxembourg?
Bummer. In a nation where people are obsessed with the Nobel price (mind me, the “right kind of Nobel price” –of course), what are the odds of me bumping into someone who’s completely oblivions to it all? Normally when I tell Chinese people I am from Sweden, their instant reaction is: “Nobel!” and then I have to engage in a discussion about why China hasn’t won any (accepted) prize yet, and when it is due to happen.
Then again, there are apparently those who don’t care.
But congratulations to Mo Yan and to China. This price is going to do wonders for Chinese literature, that’s for sure.