Mo Yan wins Nobel literature prize

Chinese author Mo Yan takeing part in a

Chinese author Mo Yan takeing part in a reading at the 61st Frankfurt Book Fair in Frankfurt. Yan won the 2012 Nobel Literature Prize. (Oct. 15, 2009) (Credit: Getty Images)

Mo Yan, the Chinese author, won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature with the motivation "who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary," the Swedish Academy said today in Stockholm.

Mo Yan, 57, whose pen name translates to "don't speak" in Chinese, (his real name is Guan Moye) is the son of a coal miner and grew up in a poor family in Gaomi township in Shandong, a locale he draws on for material in many of his novels.

He is the second Chinese author to win the prize since Gao Xingjian, who took French citizenship several years before, won in 2000.

Mo Yan left school at age 10 in order to work, and after the cultural revolution ended in 1976 he became a writer for the People's Liberation Army, finally leaving in 1997, said Howard Goldblatt, who has translated many of his books into English.

Goldblatt describes him as "voracious reader and autodidact," and a "born story teller." He says Mo Yan's work would appeal to fans of both Francois Rabelais and Edgar Allen Poe.

Last year's Nobel literature prize went to Tomas Transtromer, a Swedish poet and translator known for his depiction of nature and his economy of form.

Winners in the last decade have included Romanian-born novelist Herta Mueller in 2009 and Turkish author Orhan Pamuk in 2006.

The 8 million-krona ($1.2 million) Nobel literature prize was created in the will of Alfred Nobel and first awarded in 1901. Nobel, a Swede who invented dynamite, also set up awards for achievements in medicine, physics, chemistry and peace.

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