Chinese Author Mo Yan Wins Nobel Prize in Literature (+Video)

By Ford, Peter | The Christian Science Monitor, October 11, 2012 | Go to article overview

Chinese Author Mo Yan Wins Nobel Prize in Literature (+Video)


Ford, Peter, The Christian Science Monitor


Mo Yan, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature, is one of Chinas most popular and widely translated novelists, but he has drawn criticism for his cozy relations with the government.

Mr. Mo was given the prize for novels in which, with hallucinatory realism [he] merges folk tales, history, and the contemporary, in the words of Peter Englund, Secretary of the Swedish Academy that awards the prize, speaking in Stockholm.

Mo, whose real name is Guan Moye but who writes under the pen name Mo Yan, meaning dont speak, has written a number of sprawling novels tackling major themes of modern Chinese history such as land reform and enforced birth control. His work betrays the literary influences of William Faulkner and magical realist Gabriel Garca Mrquez.

He absorbed a lot of foreign literature and Chinese traditions and came up with a new direction for Chinese literary language, says Eric Abrahamsen, a literary translator in Beijing.

Mo first attracted international attention in 1987 with his novel Red Sorghum which was later made into a film by director Zhang Yimou. He has since won almost all the prizes available to Chinese writers, but his artistic achievements have sometimes been overshadowed by his readiness to acquiesce to the wishes of a government that persecutes writers of whom it disapproves.

Mo is a vice chairman of the government-linked China Writers Association, for example, and refused to join a panel at the 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair because two exiled dissident Chinese authors were slated to speak at the event.

Though Mo had been widely tipped to win this years prize for literature, his political stance or rather his lack of one had been thought to be an obstacle. …

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