Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mo Yan

Mo Yan is a modern author, described as "one of the most famous, oft-banned and widely of all ". He is known in the West for two of his novels which were the basis of the film ''Red Sorghum''. He has been referred to as the Chinese answer to Franz Kafka or Joseph Heller.

"Mo Yan", meaning "don't speak" in Chinese, is a pen name. His real name is Guan Moye .

His works have been translated into more than a dozen languages, including English, German and French.

Personal life

Mo Yan was born in the Shandong province to a family of farmers. He left school during the Cultural Revolution to work in a factory that produced . He joined the People's Liberation Army at age twenty, and began writing while he was still a soldier, in 1981. Three years later, he was given a teaching position at the Department of Literature in the Army's Cultural Academy. 

Writing style

Mo Yan's works are predominantly social commentary, and he is strongly influenced by the political critique of Lu Xun and the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Using dazzling, complex, and often graphically violent images, Mo Yan draws readers into the disturbing yet beautiful, kaleidoscopic universes of his stories. Like American author Stephen King, Mo Yan sets many of his stories near his hometown: Northeast Gaomi Township in Shandong province.

Extremely prolific, Mo Yan wrote his latest novel, "Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out" in only 43 days. He composed the more than 500,000 characters contained in the original manuscript on traditional Chinese paper using only ink and a writing brush.


Mo Yan has published dozens of short stories and novels in Chinese. Several of his novels have been translated into English by Howard Goldblatt, professor of East Asian languages and literatures at the University of Notre Dame.

His first novel was ''Falling Rain on a Spring Night'', published in 1981.

His works include:
* ''''
* ''The Garlic Ballads''
* ''Explosions and Other Stories'', a collection of short stories
* ''The Republic of Wine: A Novel''
* ''Shifu: You'll Do Anything for a Laugh'', a collection of short stories
* ''Big Breasts & Wide Hips''
* ''Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out''

Other published works include ''White Dog Swing'', ''Man and Beast'', ''Soaring'', ''Iron Child'', ''The Cure'', ''Love Story'', ''Shen Garden'' and ''Abandoned Child''.


* Neustadt International Prize for Literature, candidate, 1998
* Kiriyama Prize Notable Books , 2005
* Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize XVII, 2006
* Man Asian Literary Prize nominee , 2007


Several of Mo Yan's works have been adapted for film:

*''Red Sorghum''
*''Happy Times''

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