Valdosta Daily Times

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October 12, 2012

China's popular Mo Yan wins Nobel literature prize

(Continued)

BEIJING —

"I'll continue on the path I've been taking, feet on the ground, describing people's lives, describing people's emotions, writing from the standpoint of the ordinary people," said Mo, whose real name is Guan Moye and whose pen name "Mo Yan" means "don't speak." He chose the name while writing his first novel to remind himself to hold his tongue and stay out of trouble.

The state media hoopla and government cheer contrasted with the last Nobel prizes given to Chinese. Beijing disowned China-born French emigre dramatist, novelist and government critic Gao Xingjian when in 2000 he became the only other Chinese winner of the literary prize.

After imprisoned democracy campaigner Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Peace Prize two years ago, the government heaped scorn on the award as a tool of the West and chilled diplomatic and economic relations with Norway, the home country of the prize.

Nobel winners have included political and social critics, including Guenter Grass of Germany and Orhan Pamuk of Turkey. The Swedish Academy disputed suggestions that it had selected Mo to seek Beijing's favor and rehabilitate the Nobel's image in the minds of many Chinese.

"As we've been trying to, naggingly, say: This is a literature prize that is awarded on literary merit alone. We don't take other things in consideration," said Peter Englund, the academy's permanent secretary. The reaction in a winner's homeland "doesn't enter into our calculus."

Mo writes of visceral pleasures and existential quandaries and tends to create vivid, mouthy characters. While his early work sticks to a straightforward narrative structure enlivened by vivid descriptions, raunchy humor and farce, his style has evolved, toying with different narrators and embracing a freewheeling style often described as "Chinese magical realism."

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