Chinese author Mo Yan awarded Nobel prize for literature

Featured - October 12th, 2012

Mo Yan, the writer of “Red Sorghum”, has won the Nobel prize for literature – the first “acknowledged” Chinese national to be awarded such an honor, AFP reports.

The 57-year old author is widely known for his writing which “with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary”. Among the works highlighted by the Nobel judges were “Red Sorghum” (1987) and “Big Breasts & Wide Hips” (2004), as well as “The Garlic Ballads”.

Red Sorghum tells of the violence of the battle against Japanese invaders in 1930s China. The book was later adapted into an Oscar-nominated film by Chinese director Zhang Yimou.

“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”, the Swedish Academy said.

In a recorded interview, Mo Yan expressed his surprise of being given the honor. “Winning the Nobel prize has stunned me, as I always thought it was very distant for me,” he said.

Contrary to past sentiments on Chinese recipients of Nobel prize, which China deems too “Westernized”, Mo Yan’s award was widely celebrated across the country. Beijing either condemned or ignored Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel peace prize in 2010 and exiled Chinese-born writer and political dissident Gao Xingian’s Nobel prize for literature in 2000.