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Mo Yan

Guan Moye is popularly known by the pen name Mo Yan. He is a Chinese author and has won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature.


Mo Yan was born in 1955 in Gaomi, China.

He was forced to leave school when he was 12 during the Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution (1966-76). After leaving school, he spent his childhood herding cattle. He was poor and had to survive on weeds and tree bark as he often had no money to buy rice. He detailed the hardships of life in rural China in his book Red Sorghum. The book was later adapted into a fil by director Zhang Yimou in 1987 which won several awards.

Pen Name

In a speech in Hong Kong, Mo Yan revealed that he chose the pen name Mo Yan (Don't Speak) to remind himself that he cannot cross lines in a country where the authors and artists are affected by government censors.

Nobel Prize in Literature

Mo Yan is known in the West for two of his novels which were the basis of the film Red Sorghum. The 2012 Nobel committee has praised Mo Yan as an author "who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary". Mo Yan is the first writer in China to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

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