Mo Yan, was born in 1955 in Gaomi Township in Shandong Province, a rural area that is the setting for much of his fiction. Mo Yan ("don't speak") is a pseudonym for Guan Moye on the advice of his parents as a school-age boy during the Mao era. The cultural revolution forced him to leave school at 12 and went to work in the fields, completing his education in the army. He published his first book in 1981, but found literary success in 1987 with Hong gaoliang jiazu (Red Sorghum), a novel made into an internationally successful movie by director Zhang Yimou, set against the horrific events that unfolded as Japan invaded China in the 1930s.
"He writes about peasantry, about life in the countryside, about people struggling to survive, struggling for their dignity, sometimes winning but most of the time losing," said permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy Peter Englund, announcing the win. "The basis for his books was laid when as a child he listened to folktales. The description magical realism has been used about him, but I think that is belittling him – this isn't something he's picked up from Gabriel García Márquez, but something which is very much his own. With the supernatural going in to the ordinary, he's an extremely original narrator."
Edited excerpt from the Guardian, Oct. 11, 2012, by Alison Flood
Howard Goldblatt taught modern Chinese literature and culture for more than a quarter of a century. He was a Research Professor of Chinese at the University of Notre Dame from 2002-2011 and is a translator of numerous works of contemporary Chinese (mainland China & Taiwan) fiction. Goldblatt translated the works of Chinese novelist and 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature winner Mo Yan, including six of Mo Yan's novels and collections of stories.
The Nobel Prize in Literature 2012
Nobel Literature Winner Sparks Some Controversy (NPR Morning Edition, October 12, 2012)
China's Mo Yan wins Nobel literature prize (UPI NewsTrack, October 11, 2012)
A Meaty Tale, Carnivorous and Twisted (The New York Times, January 1, 2013)
A Chinese Laureate's Tale of Free Speech (The New York Times, December 19, 2012)
Mo Yan's Creative Space (The New York Times The Opion Pages, Octover 15, 2012)
PBS News Hour 2012