Public appearances: Fancy dress

CHINESE author Mo Yan travelled last week to Sweden to collect the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature. The decision to give the award to Mr Mo (whose real name is Guan Moye; his pen name means “Does not Speak”) has not been without controversy. After the announcement of his triumph, Mr Mo came in for a round of criticism from fellow writers and intellectuals, including many who feel that he is too cosy with the Chinese government.

In the recent past Mr Mo has spoken out in support of Liu Xiaobo, the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize who has been jailed intermittently since 1989 and serving an 11-year sentence since 2009. But since arriving in Stockholm, Mr Mo has also made several statements attempting to justify Chinese censorship laws as being necessary security measures, along the lines of having X-ray scanners at airports. Such statements will hardly mollify Mr Mo's critics at home and abroad.

There has also been a kerfuffle over Mr Mo’s choice of wardrobe. Two weeks ago the author’s brother disclosed that Mr Mo was having a dinner jacket made for the award ceremony. “Netizens” called on Mr Mo to eschew Western garb in favour of something in keeping with traditional Chinese culture. Photoshopped images of Mr Mo in different styles of dress began popping up on the internet, as the netizens debated just which kind of sartorial statement Mr Mo should make at the ceremony itself on December 10th.