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China's Mo Yan wins Nobel literature prize

Oct. 11, 2012 at 7:59 AM  |  Updated Oct. 11, 2012 at 8:23 AM   |   Comments

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STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Mo Yan, who uses growing up in northeastern China for his storytelling, received the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature, the selection committee announced Thursday.

Mo Yan, a pseudonym for Guan Moye, is a writer who, "with hallucinatory realism, merges folk tales, history and the contemporary," the committee said in a release.

Born in 1955 and 12 years old when the Cultural Revolution began, Mo Yan left school to work as a farmer and then in a factory. In 1976, he joined the People's Liberation Army and began to study literature and write.

Mo Yan, whose first short story was published in a literary journal in 1981, is considered in China one of the country's foremost contemporary authors, the committee said.

In his writings, Mo Yan draws on his experiences and settings growing up in Shangong province, as evidenced in his 1987 novel, "Hong gaoliang jiazu" ("Red Sorghum"), in which five stories unfold and interweave over decades in the 20th century, depicting bandit culture, the Japanese occupation and harsh conditions poor farmworkers endured.

The 1988 novel "Tiantang suantai zhi ge" ("The Garlic Ballads") and his 1992 satire "Jiuguo" ("The Republic of Wine") were judged subversive because of their criticism of contemporary Chinese society.

"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 committee release said.

Besides his novels, Mo Yan has published short stories and essays on a variety of subjects.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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