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China’s Mo Yan Wins Nobel Prize for Literature

Chinese writer Mo Yan has won the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature, reports the BBC.  Born Guan Moye, he writes under the pen name of Mo Yan, which translates as “don’t speak” in Chinese.

The 57-year-old began writing while working as a soldier in the Chinese army and was first published in 1981. He is best known for the novel, Red Sorghum: A Novel of China. Mo Yan is the first Chinese resident to win the prize. Chinese-born Gao Xingjian won in 2000, but he is a French citizen.

Falling Rain on a Spring Night was his debut novel but Mo Jan is also a prolific writer of short stories.

He has written about a variety of subjects, including the Cultural Revolution. A novel called Big Breasts and Wide Hips sparked controversy in 1995 for its sexual content and storyline about the struggles within the Communist Party, which banned the book.

Mo Yan’s latest novel is called Frog and concerns China’s single child population control policy. Other books include The Garlic Ballads – a novel about a revolt amongst garlic farmers – and Shifu, You’ll Do Anything for a Laugh–  a collection of eight dark stories. In 2008, a novel called Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out was widely praised – it’s a surreal story of a landowner who is executed in 1948 and then endures Hell before being reborn again and again as the animals in the Chinese Zodiac.

Another interesting book is Change – a highly political novel that is autobiographical and covers much of the political upheaval in China.

The Chinese author is the 109th recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, won in 2011 by Swedish poet Tomas Transtroemer.


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