The literature of 2012 Nobel winner Mo Yan

Talking about literature, there is a talk that Chinese writer Mo Yan might bring China its first Nobel Prize in Literature. The 57-year-old contemporary Chinese writer, Mo Yan, has been dominating Chinese media headlines.

His literary achievements make him a serious competitor for this year’s prize. He has been a popular figure in China’s literary scene since the mid-1980s.

Most people would find it hard to associate the animalistic spirits in “Red Sorghum” with the mild-mannered and even timid looking Mo Yan.

Most of Mo Yan’s works are set in his own hometown, Gaomi County, in East China’s Shandong Province. Before the age of 20, he’d never ventured beyond the boundaries of his own county.

Mo Yan was born in 1955, the fourth child in his family. In his early years, he experienced poverty, hunger and was repressed by a particularly harsh father. All of these things have influenced Mo Yan’s later writings.

When Mo Yan was 12 years old, he was forced to leave school and graze cattle. To satisfy his thirst for reading, Mo Yan read every single book he could get hold of, even the dictionary.

When he turned 20, he joined the army and got to see the world beyond his home village. Six years later in 1981, he started his writing career. In 1987, “The Red Sorgum” burst onto China’s literary scene.

Mo Yan’s other major works include “The Republic of Wine”, “Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out”, “Sandalwood Death”, “Big Breasts and Wide Hips” and more. Mo has won several top Chinese and international prizes including the Mao Dun Prize 2011 for “Frog”.

More than any other Chinese author, Mo Yan is well represented in foreign languages around the world. And with good reason – he’s one of the great novelistic masters of modern Chinese literature, with a long list of ambitious novels to his name. His writing is powerful, visual, and broad, dipping into history, fantasy and absurdity to tell stories of China and its people.


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