Mo Yan: The First Chinese Citizen Ever to Win the Nobel Prize

The novelist has been recognized for his genre-bending style and social critique.

RTR390MK-615.jpgChina Daily/Reuters

Mo Yan, the Chinese novelist born to a family of farmers, has become the first of his countrymen to win the Nobel prize for literature:

The author is best known among Western audiences for his 1987 book Red Sorghum, which blends together five storylines set in Mo Yan's hometown in northeastern China's Shandong province. The novel was adapted for an internationally-acclaimed film that incidentally marked the directorial debut of Zhang Yimou -- the producer responsible for 2008's highly choreographed Summer Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing.

"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 García Márquez," the Nobel Foundation's citation reads.

Mo Yan is a pen name that translates to "don't speak." His real name is Guan Moye.

Although Mo is the first Chinese citizen to win the Nobel, other authors of Chinese descent have also been awarded the prize. In 2000, Nobel officials gave the award to Gao Xingjian, a writer from China's Jiangxi province who was by then a French citizen.

Here's a list of Mo Yan's other work.

Presented by

Brian Fung is the technology writer at National Journal. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and has written for Foreign Policy and The Washington Post.

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