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Mo Yan Wins the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature

Mo YanNobel Medal

Alert! Chinese novelist Mo Yan has won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature. It was announced by the Swedish Academy in Stockholm today, making him the first Chinese writer to win the Nobel in its 111-year history. Although Gao Xingjian, who is of Chinese descent and was born in China, won in 2000, he is now a French citizen. Mo Yan is considered one of the greatest Chinese-language writers today and has been widely translated. Born Guan Moye, the author writes under the pen name Mo Yan, which means “don’t speak” in Chinese.

Red SorghumFrogLife and Death are Wearing Me OutThe Garlic BalladsBig Breasts and Wide Hips

The Nobel Committee tweeted the following:

The Garlic Ballads is (most likely) the Committee’s representative choice in Mo Yan’s ouevre. Red Sorghum, however, is the novel many around the world would know him best for, as it was adapted into a film of the same name by Zhang Yimou.

Granta editor John Freeman spoke to Mo Yan at the London Book Fair earlier this year.
Listen to the podcast:

Read the interview:

Mo Yan is one of China’s most celebrated and widely translated writers. Born in the Shandong province in 1955 into a family of farmers, he enlisted in the People’s Liberation Army at the age of twenty and began writing stories at the same time. Since then he has written several novels and story collections, including Red Sorghum, Big Breasts & Wide Hips, Life And Death Are Wearing Me Out and most recently, Frog. This week he spoke to Granta editor John Freeman at the London Book Fair, about writing strong women, retaining idioms and puns even in translation and avoiding censorship.

Granta also published an extract from Frogs this year:

I have to admit that, though I did not make it public, I was personally opposed to my Aunty’s marriage plans. My father, my brothers and their wives shared my feelings. It simply wasn’t a good match in our view. Ever since we were small we’d looked forward to seeing Aunty find a husband. Her relationship with Wang Xiaoti had brought immense glory to the family, only to end ingloriously. Yang Lin was next, and while not nearly the ideal match that Wang would have provided, he was, after all, an official, which made him a passable candidate for marriage. Hell, she could have married Qin He, who was obsessed with her, and be better off than with Hao Dashou . . . we were by then assuming she’d wind up an old maid, and had made appropriate plans. We’d even discussed who would be her caregiver when she reached old age. But then, with no prior indication, she’d married Hao Dashou. Little Lion and I were living in Beijing then, and when we heard the news, we could hardly believe our ears. Once the preposterous reality set in, we were overcome by sadness.

After the Nobel announcement, Granta tweeted this picture of Mo Yan when he came to their offices:

In 2011, Mo Yan won the Mao Dun award, China’s most prestigious literary award, for his 11th novel Frog. Here’s what some in the Chinese media had to say:

Chinese writer Mo Yan has won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature, announced Peter Englund, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy in Stockholm on Thursday.

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 is awarded to Chinese writer Mo Yan “who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary,” said Englund.

Chinese author Mo Yan today won the Nobel Literature Prize for writing that mixes folk tales, history and the contemporary, the Swedish Academy announced.

Last year’s winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature was Tomas Tranströmer. This year’s laureates will receive their prizes at formal ceremonies in Stockholm and Oslo on December 10.

Further Mo Yan links

Book details


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Kelwyn Sole</a>
    Kelwyn Sole
    October 11th, 2012 @18:39 #

    Wot, still no Adonis?

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Kelwyn Sole</a>
    Kelwyn Sole
    October 13th, 2012 @11:52 #

    Seeing as how the EU just won the Nobel Peace Prize, my prediction for next year's Nobel in Lit? Enid Blyton.


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