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International2012 Nobel Prize winner in Literature—Mo Yan

November 1, 2012

China is very proud of one of its own. Author, Mo Yan, has won the 2012 Nobel Prize in literature. The prize committee says that his writing brings together “folk tales, history, and the contemporary” in a strange dream world called “hallucinatory realism.” He will accept his prize and $1.2 million in Stockholm on December 10.

Mo Yan is 57 years old. He was born on a farm in Shandong province in Northeastern China. He joined the People’s liberation Army in 1976. When he began to study literature and write, he changed his name from Guan Moye to Mo Yan. His pen name, “Mo Yan” means “don’t talk.” He used it when his first short story was published in 1981.

Mo Yan uses his home, his childhood experiences and family stories as resources for his work. For example, his famous novel, Red Sorghum, 1987, takes place in a small village. It is a story about love and “peasant struggles.” The story was made into a movie that won a prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 1988. Other major works are Big Breasts and Wide Hips and The Garlic Ballads. NPR reported that Mo Yan, used a brush, not a computer to write the 500,000 words of another great work, Life and Death are Wearing Me Out.

Mo Yan is the first Chinese citizen, but the second Chinese language author to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. The first Nobel winner in 2000, Gao Xingjian, is a French citizen. His work is critical of the Chinese government and banned in China.

Developed by Mie Ohno, Yunjung Jung, Yan Fan, Sunghee Kim, Qiang Zhang

Published November 2012

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