The First Chinese Laureate: Mo Yan Wins the Nobel Prize for Literature

Posted on October 11, 2012

Mo Yan Author PhotoMo Yan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Nobel Committee said in a release, "Through a mixture of fantasy and reality, historical and social perspectives, Mo Yan has created a world reminiscent in its complexity of those in the writings of William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez, at the same time finding a departure point in old Chinese literature and in oral tradition. In addition to his novels, Mo Yan has published many short stories and essays on various topics, and despite his social criticism is seen in his homeland as one of the foremost contemporary authors."

Mo Yan is a pseudonym for Guan Moye. Born in 1955, he grew up on a farm in the Shandong province in north-eastern China. During the Cultural Revolution, he was forced to leave school at the age of twelve to work in the the fields, and then in a factory. He joined the People's Liberation Army in 1976 and published his first short story in 1981 in a literary journal. Since then, he has published many novels and short stories in several languages. His work is regularly banned in China due to its examination of sensitive cultural issues. Many in the West are unfamiliar with his work. He is China's first Nobel Laureate.

The Guardian has a handy guide to six of his best works.

Photo: © J. Kolfhaus, Gymn. Marientha