Mo Yan, born 17 February 1955, is a Chinese novelist and short story writer. Before 2012, he was mostly know for the two of his novels that formed the basis of the film Red Sorghum, directed by award-winning Chinese director Zhang Yimou. Mo is currently the only Chinese author who has won the Nobel Prize in Literature.
"Mo Yan" — meaning "don't speak" in Chinese — is his pen name. In an interview with Jim Leach, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, he explains that name comes from a warning from his father and mother not to speak his mind while outside, because of China's revolutionary political situation from the 1950s, when he grew up. The pen name also relates to the subject matter of Mo Yan's writings, which reinterpret Chinese political and sexual history.
Mo Yan's works are epic historical novels characterised by hallucinatory realism and containing elements of black humor. A major theme in Mo Yan's works is the constancy of human greed and corruption, despite the influence of ideology. Using dazzling, complex, and often graphically violent images, he sets many of his stories near his hometown, Northeast Gaomi Township in Shandong province. Mo Yan says he realised that he could make "[my] family, [the] people I'm familiar with, the villagers..." his characters after reading William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. He satirizes the genre of socialist realism by placing workers and bureaucrats into absurd situations.
From Literature to Movie
Mo Yan's brush with cinematic fire started with a bang. In 1986, Mo published Red Sorghum as a novella; the following year the film version swept the world off its feet as it went on to collect the Golden Bear award at the 38th Berlin International Film Festival.
Mo Yan, Zhang Yimou and others during the period of shooting Red Sorghum
Gaomi – Magical Land in Mo Yan’s Novels
Mo yan, who created a series of legends of “Gaomi Township”, is full of passion about his hometown. “My hometown and my works are correlated with each other.” Remarked Mo, “in Gaomi there are various kinds of fork art, such as clay sculpture, Chinese paper-cut, flapping clay picture, Mao Opera, etc. I grew up under the influence of folk art and folk culture. When I write, these folk elements cannot help being involved in my works. To some extent, they even decide my writing styles. ”
Gaomi, or Yi’an in ancient China, is located in Shandong province. The earliest generations began to live here nearly five thousand years ago. By far there have been over twenty ancient sites were discovered in Gaomi, with nine sites of Longshan culture included. Several famous figures in Chinese history were born here, for example, Yan Ying the famous Chancellor(China) in Spring and Autumn Periods, Zheng Xuan an influential Confucian scholar in Han dynasty, Liu Yong a famous scholar in Qing dynasty ...
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