Chinese Mo Yan wins Nobel in Literature

Second Chinese laureate,Mo appears pro-govt; Beijing welcomes award

Written by New York Times | London | Published: October 12, 2012 12:35:37 am

SARAH LYALL & ANDREW JACOBS

Mo Yan,a wildly prolific and internationally renowned Chinese author who considers himself non-political but whose embrace by the ruling Communist Party has drawn criticism from dissident writers,was on Thursday awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature.

In his novels and short stories,Mo paints sprawling,intricate portraits of Chinese rural life,often using flights of fancy — animal narrators,the underworld,elements of fairy tales — that evoke the techniques of South American magical realists. He is perhaps best known abroad for Red Sorghum (1987; published in English in 1993) which takes on issues like the Japanese occupation,bandit culture and harsh lives of rural Chinese,and which in 1987 was made into a movie.

“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,at the same time finding a departure point in old Chinese literature and in oral tradition,” the Swedish Academy said.

Mo has not been shy of lacing his fiction with social criticism,but at the same time has carefully navigated whatever invisible line the government considers unacceptable. He has also appeared at times to embrace the establishment,and serves as vice chairman of the party-run Chinese Writers’ Association.

He is the second Chinese citizen to win a Nobel; the first was the jailed dissident political agitator Liu Xiaobo,who won the peace prize two years ago. However,in contrast to the government’s anger over that award,which included refusing to allow Liu to accept it and exacting diplomatic penalties against Norway,Beijing reacted to this one as an international vindication.

The announcement was celebrated on the China Central Television evening news broadcast,which took the unusual step of breaking into its regular news coverage for a special report. The populist state-run Global Times newspaper immediately placed a “special coverage” page,clearly prepared in advance,on its English-language website.

When the organizers contacted Mo,said Peter Englund,secretary of the Swedish Academy,“he said he was overjoyed and scared,” Associated Press reported.

Laurels for a ‘magical realist’

FOR WHAT?

The Swedish Academy praised Mo’s “hallucinatoric realism”

NOTABLE WORKS

Red Sorghum; The Garlic Ballads; Big Breasts & Wide Hips; Frog

LITERARY IMPACT

Mo writes of visceral pleasures and existential quandaries,creating vivid characters. His early work stuck to a straightforward narrative structure enlivened by vivid descriptions and raunchy humor. In recent years,Mo has become more experimental,toying with different narrators and embracing a freewheeling style often described as “Chinese magical realism”.

For all the latest News Archive News, download Indian Express App

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement