A Chinese Dickens

Mo Yan wins Nobel Prize for Literature 2012An early School leaver from China has won the Nobel Prize in literature this year. He is the first Chinese citizen to win this prize since its creation 111 years ago.

Author Mo Yan, whose real name is Guan Moye, was born in 1955 in Gaomi in east China’s Shandong Province. He was forced to leave school at the age of 12 due to a cultural revolution and ended up working in the fields with his parents who were farmers at the time. He then went to work in a cotton factory at the age of 14 and did not complete his education until he joined the People’s Liberation Army in 1976 at the age of 20. He began to study literature and writing.

His first short story was published in 1981 in a literary journal, but it was not until 1987 that he became a well known and respected writer. A lot of people compare him to Dickens as they both have a strong moral core to their work. The Swedish Academy, which selects the winners of the prestigious award, praised Mo’s ‘realism’ saying ‘it merges folk tales, history and the contemporary.’ He now shares the prestigious award with other writers like Samuel Beckett, Doris Lessing and last year’s winner, the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer.

You can find his books online and in all good book shops. He is currently the most translated living Chinese writer and his works include ‘Big Breasts and Wide Hips’, ‘Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out’ and his most recent novel ‘Wa’, a story about the consequences of China’s one-child policy. This is quite topical as this law will be up for review in 2015.
By Jason McDonnell