Mo Yan

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Mo Yan, contemporary Chinese writer.

Mo Yan (莫言) is a famous contemporary Chinese writer. In 2012, He became the country's first Nobel Literature Prize laureate.

He took the second place in the 2012 Chinese Writers Rich List that was released on Nov. 29, 2012, having earned 21.5 million yuan ($3.45 million) in royalties. It is the first time Mo has made the annual list since 2006, when he was ranked 20th.

Born Guan Moye (管谟业), the author writes under the pen name Mo Yan, which means "don't speak" in Chinese.

Mo Yan was granted an honorary PhD of Arts by OUHK (Open University of Hong Kong) and was appointed guest professor at the Qingdao University of Technology. Relying on a series of country literary works, Mo's claim to fame came in the 1980s when he established a reputation for being a so-called root-seeking writer. His works were strongly influenced by magical realism and told the tales of numerous legends which took place in Gaomi, Shandong Province. Mo is renowned for his unique perceptions of reality, imaginative descriptions, de-familiarization processing, mysticism and a pioneering style.


Mo Yan was born on February 17, 1955 in Gaomi, Shandong Province. He attended primary school in his hometown and actually was forced to drop out because of China's Cultural Revolution. He was sent to the countryside where he had to perform manual labor for many years.

In 1976, Mo joined the PLA (China's People's Liberation Army) and held the posts of monitor, librarian, teacher and secretary.

In 1981, he started his writing career and published several early works such as "Dry River,""Autumn Stream"and "Folk Music."

In 1986, he graduated from the department of literature at the PLA Academy of Arts.  

In 1991, he was granted a master's degree in literature and art from the Lu Xun Literature Institute at Beijing Normal University.

In 1997, his full-length novel "Big Breasts and Wide Hips"won the Da Jia Literature Prize, a money prize of 100,000 Yuan. Mo then left the army and started to work for regional newspaper Procuratorial Daily. He also wrote TV scripts for the department of film and television.

In 2000, his novel "Family Stories of Red Sorghum"was on the list of the 100 best Chinese fictional works of the 20th century, as selected by Asia Week. The movie "Red Sorghum,"directed by Zhang Yimou (张艺谋), was adapted from this novel and won the 38th Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear Award.

In 2001, "Sandalwood Penalty" was awarded with the prize of the "Best Literary Book for Readers," granted by Taiwan United Daily News. This novel also won the Ding Jun Double Year Prize for Literature in 2003.

Though missing out on the 2005 Mao Dun Literature Prize, Mo did win the second Mass Media Award for Chinese Literature for Outstanding Achievements for his novel "Forty-one Cannons."The Open University of Hong Kong later granted him an honorary PhD of Arts.

His first chapter book "Fatigue of Life and Death"got him the Fukuoka Asian Culture Award in 2006. According to the list of wealthiest Chinese writers published on December 15, 2006, Mo ranked twentieth, with his royalties amounting to 3.45 million Yuan. These facts and figures attracted wide public attention.

In July 2007, his collection of essays "Say It, Mo Yan", a representation of his spiritual journey, was published.

In 2008, "Fatigue of Life and Death"won first prize at the second Dream of the Red Chamber Awards.

In December 2009, Mo's full-length novel "The Frog" was published. The book features Mo's characteristically unique writing skills, containing four long letters and one drama. "The Frog" tells the story of a female country doctor who has been practicing gynecology for nearly 50 years. Set to the backdrop of the rural birth condition from the eyes of the obstetrician in six decades since the country's liberation, it represented the arduous and complicated course of controlling the Chinese population growth, creating an inspirational female protagonist and at the same time revealing the pain and difficulties of that age. On August 20, 2011, "the Frog"won the eighth Mao Dun Literature Prize.

Mo was appointed guest professor at the Qingdao University of Technology and was also selected to act as vice- chairman of the Chinese Writers' Association on November 2011.

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2012 was awarded to Mo Yan, "who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary," the Swedish Academy announced in Stockholm on Oct. 11, 2012.

The Language and Cultural Press under Ministry of Education decided to add one of Mo's novella "A transparent carrot" in high school textbooks a couple of days after the annoucement for Mo's winning as the literary laureate.

He became the first director of the International Writing Center established by Beijing Normal University on May 13, 2013.