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Who is 2012 Nobel Literature winner Mo Yan?

The Nobel committee just announced that Chinese author Mo Yan is the recipient of the 2012 Nobel prize for literature.

Mo Yan which means 'don't speak' is the pen name of Guan Moye. Time magazine described his work as having "tackled China's tumultuous past century with a mix of magical realism and sharp-eyed satire that has made him one of the most famous, oft-banned and widely pirated of all Chinese writers."

His work is said to be predominantly social commentary, and he is reportedly strongly influenced by the political critique of Lu Xun and the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Mo was widely tipped to be the winner of the literature award, although he faced strong competition from Japan's Haruki Murakami.

Speculation of Mo being among the top candidates had drawn much attention and caused much excitement among some Chinese, said a report in Chinese daily, The Global Times.

"For over 100 years, the names of Chinese authors have been absent from the list of winners for the Nobel Prize in Literature," it said.

The daily quickly added that the "prize for 2000 was awarded to Gao Xingjian, a French-Chinese dissident writer who left China in 1987. But Gao, whose works were criticized by some as favoring the West and catering to Western values, was greatly controversial domestically".

Image from Wikimedia Commons

"Mo, however, is one of the most widely read writers in China and is a typical Chinese author in the traditional sense. His works reflect a vivid and real grass-roots China," it said.

Mo once said that there are three major features in his works: extraordinary characters; language with absurd local flavor (or somewhat black humor of the absurd); and plots with symbolic meaning.

"For a creative writer, books... are not the most crucial thing. The most crucial things are inspiration, the imagination, and life experience," Mo said.

He is  best known for his novel Red Sorghum which was turned into a prizewinning 1987 movie by director Zhang Yimou and picked by Chinese readers in a 1996 poll as their favorite novel. According to the Wikipedia online encyclopaedia, Mo Yan has published dozens of short stories and novels in Chinese. His first novel was Falling Rain on a Spring Night, published in 1981. Several of his novels have been translated into English by Howard Goldblatt, professor of East Asian languagesand literatures at the University of Notre Dame. (Read more)

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