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.