The Nobel Prize in Literature 2012
(pen-name of Guan Moye)
Born: 1955, Gaomi, China
Residence at the time of the award: China
Prize motivation: "who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary"
Prize share: 1/1
Mo Yan's writings cover a wide span, from short stories, to novels, to essays. His path to a literary career was not clear-cut. Mo Yan was born to a poor farming family in Shandong Province, China. After only a few years of schooling, he began work as a cattle herder at the age of 11. As a young man, Mo Yan enlisted in the army, where his literary talent was first discovered. He published his first short story in 1981, which, like his earlier works, was written according to the prevailing literary dictates of the ruling regime.
Over time, however, Mo Yan's storytelling began to seek out its own, more independent paths. His international breakthrough came with the epic novel 'Red Sorghum'. Other famous works by the Nobel Prize-awarded author include 'The Garlic Ballads' and 'Life and Death are Wearing Me Out'. His narrative style bears the hallmarks of magical realism. Mo Yan's writing often uses older Chinese literature and popular oral traditions as a starting point, combining these with contemporary social issues.