NEH Chairman Jim Leach interviewed author Mo Yan in October during the Second U.S.-China Cultural Forum at the University of California–Berkeley.
MO YAN: I stayed in Iowa for two weeks. I knew every street, and I went to every restaurant there. I met Paul Engle and his wife, Hualing Nieh Engle, who is my good friend. Iowa is a lot of cornfields. While I was there, I misbehaved by American standards, I think. I went to a cornfield, and I picked up some corncobs, and I brought them to the hotel and boiled them and ate them. Iowa feels warm and familiar because it’s a lot like my home village. So I think my work will have friends in Iowa who will recognize the similar background and environment.
Mo Yan reading, Iowa City, Iowa, September 13, 2004
125 West Washington St.
In this reading archive, Christopher Merrill introduces Hualing Nieh Engle who then introduces Mo Yan. Mo Yan speaks only in Chinese and so a translator repeats what he is saying in English.
Mo Yan reads an excerpt from his novel which is then repeated in English by the translator, and this particular part of the story is set in 1947 during the time when the conflict between the Nationalists and the Communist leaders was coming to an end.
(Note: It may difficult to hear what the translator is saying because he is further away from the microphone than Mo Yan, which makes it seem like Mo Yan is speaking very loudly.)