China's Mo Yan wins Nobel for "hallucinatory realism"

Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:41pm EDT
 
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By Johan Ahlander

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Chinese writer Mo Yan won the 2012 Nobel prize for literature on Thursday for works which combine "hallucinatory realism" with folk tales, history and contemporary life in China.

Mo, who was once so destitute he ate tree bark and weeds to survive, is the first Chinese national to win the $1.2 million literature prize, awarded by the Swedish Academy.

He said the award made him "overjoyed and terrified".

Some of his books have been banned as "provocative and vulgar" by Chinese authorities but he has also been criticized as being too close to the Communist Party.

While users of a popular Chinese microblogging site offered their congratulations, dissident artist Ai Weiwei said he disagreed with giving the award to a writer with the "taint of government" about him.

Mo, 57, who grew up in the town of Gaomi in Shandong province in the northeast of the country and whose parents were farmers, sets his works mainly in the land of his birth.

Mo Yan is a pen name which means "Don't Speak". His real name is Guan Moye and he was forced to drop out of primary school and herd cattle during China's Cultural Revolution.

Speaking to the state-run China News Service, Mo said he was happy to have won.   Continued...

 
Chinese writer Mo Yan (L) talks to the media during a news conference in his hometown Gaomi, Shandong province October 11, 2012. Mo won the 2012 Nobel prize for literature on Thursday for works which the awarding committee said had qualities of "hallucinatory realism". REUTERS/China Daily