Chinese Novelist Mo Yan Wins the Nobel Prize for Literature

October 11, 2012 | 1 book mentioned 9

China has its first literary Nobel Laureate as the prize has gone to 57-year-old novelist Mo Yan. Yan is said to make use of magical realism and satire in addressing China’s recent history. His books have been frequently banned in China and “Mo Yan” is a pen name meaning “don’t speak.” Yan’s given name is Guan Moye.

coverDuring our Year in Reading last year, author Alex Shakar wrote about Yan’s novel Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out.

Yan’s style here is maximalistic, headlong, sloppy to be sure, but bursting with life; or rather, lives — human and otherwise. A Chinese landowner is executed at the dawn of the Cultural Revolution, and the story follows him literally to hell and back, again and again as he’s reborn in a progression of animal incarnations. Each time, he winds up near his former family and participates in its dramas, goes on animal adventures, and witnesses the hardships, cruelties, and absurdities of life in China over the last half-century. Mo Yan himself shows up as a character from time to time.

Yan’s other books available in English include:

Red Sorghum (which was made into a feature film)
The Garlic Ballads
Big Breasts & Wide Hips
The Republic of Wine
Shifu, You’ll Do Anything for a Laugh
Change
Explosions and Other Stories
Forthcoming in January: Pow!
He also has a story in the collection of Chinese short fiction Chairman Mao Would Not Be Amused

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created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.

9 comments:

  1. Yan may be the first laureate who is a current resident of China, but he is not the first literature laureate writing in Chinese; that honour belongs to Gao Xingjian, who won the prize in 2000.

  2. That said, Yan seems like a really intriguing writer and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into his work. Can anyone recommend a good place to start?

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