Mo Yan, 1955–, Chinese novelist, pen name of Guan Moye, b. Shandong prov. Mo is one of contemporary China's most prolific and popular writers. He left school in the fifth grade and did farm and factory work before he became a writer (1976–97) for the People's Liberation Army. He published his first short story in 1981, using the pseudonym Mo Yan [=don't speak, or shut up]. Mo was acclaimed for the novella Red Sorghum (1986, tr. 1993, film 1987), a tale of brutality, love, and resistance in the countryside during the early years of Communist rule. Mo's style mingles the earthy realism of folk tales with events from Chinese history and elements from contemporary China. He frequently incorporates fantasy, hallucination, and satire into his fiction, using techniques from classical Chinese literature as well as from Western magic realism. Among his best-known novels are The Garlic Ballads (1989, tr. 1995); The Republic of Wine (1992, tr. 2000), which deals with China's alcohol obsession; Big Breasts and Wide Hips (1995, tr. 2004), a sprawling sexual/historical fiction; Sandalwood Death (2001, tr. 2013), a tale of peasant rebellion and violent death written in the style of Chinese folk opera; Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out (2006, tr. 2008), in which animal characters reenact life in China during the second half of the 20th cent.; and Pow! (2003, tr. 2013), the tale of a boy's carnivorous obsessions. He also has written dozens of short stories, e.g., Collected Works of Mo Yan (1995) and Shifu, You'll Do Anything for a Laugh (2000, tr. 2001), and many essays. Mo was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2012.
See study by S. W. Chan (2010).