STOCKHOLM – The 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to 57-year-old Chinese writer Mo Yan.
The official site of the Nobel Prize describes Mo Yan’s style as "a mixture of fantasy and reality, historical and social perspectives," adding that Mo Yan "has created a world reminiscent in its complexity of those in the writings of William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez, at the same time finding a departure point in old Chinese literature and in oral tradition."
The 109th recipient of the prestigious prize was born Guan Moye in 1955 (he has been using "Mo Yan", meaning "don't speak" in Chinese as a pseudonym since his first novel) in Gaomi in north-eastern China.
Here is Mo Yan’s biobibliography from the Nobel Prize site:
His parents were farmers. As a twelve-year-old during the Cultural Revolution he left school to work, first in agriculture, later in a factory. In 1976 he joined the People's Liberation Army and during this time began to study literature and write. His first short story was published in a literary journal in 1981. His breakthrough came a few years later with the novella Touming de hong luobo (1986, published in French as Le radis de cristal 1993).
In his writing Mo Yan draws on his youthful experiences and on settings in the province of his birth. This is apparent in his novel Hong gaoliang jiazu (1987, in English Red Sorghum 1993). The book consists of five stories that unfold and interweave in Gaomi in several turbulent decades in the 20th century, with depictions of bandit culture, the Japanese occupation and the harsh conditions endured by poor farm workers. Red Sorghum was successfully filmed in 1987, directed by Zhang Yimou. The novel Tiantang suantai zhi ge (1988, in English The Garlic Ballads 1995) and his satirical Jiuguo (1992, in English The Republic of Wine 2000) have been judged subversive because of their sharp criticism of contemporary Chinese society.
Fengru feitun (1996, in English Big Breasts and Wide Hips 2004) is a broad historical fresco portraying 20th-century China through the microcosm of a single family. The novel Shengsi pilao (2006, in English Life and Death are Wearing Me Out 2008) uses black humour to describe everyday life and the violent transmogrifications in the young People's Republic, while Tanxiangxing (2004, to be published in English as Sandalwood Death 2013) is a story of human cruelty in the crumbling Empire. Mo Yan's latest novel Wa (2009, in French Grenouilles 2011) illuminates the consequences of China's imposition of a single-child policy.
Last year’s Nobel Prize in Literature went to Swedish author Tomas Transtromer, whose poetry offered “condensed, translucent images,” according to the Swedish Academy.
The Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded annually to the author who has, in the words of inventor Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction."