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Mo Yan wins Nobel Prize in Literature
11.10.12 | Benedicte Page
Chinese author Mo Yan has been awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature for work which "with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary."
Mo Yan's novel Red Sorghum, a story of family and myth spanning three generations, is published by Arrow; Constable & Robinson distributes Life and Death are Wearing Me Out, the story of a Chinese landlord executed in 1949 who asks the gods in hell to allow him to return to his village to sort things out, published by US press Skyhorse. Novels Big Breasts, Wide Hips and Shifu, You'll Do Anything for a Laugh are published by Methuen.
Novel Pow!, described as the tale of an old monk listening to a prospective novice's tale of depravity and violence, and as a "bizarre romp through the Chinese countryside", will be published in January by the University of Chicago Press.
Mo Yan (a pseudonymn for Guan Moye) was born in 1955 and grew up in Shandong province in north-eastern China, the son of farmers. As a 12-year-old during the Cultural Revolution he left school to work in agriculture and then a factory. Mo Yan's writing draws on his youthful experiences and on settings in the province of his birth. The Nobel Prize said: "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 Garcia Marquez, at the same time finding a departure point in old Chinese literature and in oral tradition."
Jonathan Ruppin of Foyle's said there would now be "a sustained interest" in Mo Yan's work. "There's been interest in Chinese literature in the last few years and people will be curious. He's clearly a very visionary and individual writer," he said. Novels not currently available from UK publishers would be sourced from the US, Ruppin added.