Every year since 1901 the Nobel Prize has been awarded for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and for peace. The Nobel Prize is an international award administered by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden. In 1968, Sveriges Riksbank established The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, founder of the Nobel Prize. Each prize consists of a medal, personal diploma, and a cash award.
Guan Moye, better known by the pen name Mo Yan, is a Chinese novelist and short story writer. He has been referred by Donald Morrison of U.S. news magazine TIME as “one of the most famous, oft-banned and widely pirated of all Chinese writers”, and by Jim Leach as the Chinese answer to Franz Kafka or Joseph Heller. He is best known to Western readers for his 1987 novel Red Sorghum Clan, in which the Red Sorghum and Sorghum Wine volumes were later, adapted for the film Red Sorghum. In 2012, Mo was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his work as a writer “who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary”.
Mo Yan was born in 1955, in Gaomi County in Shandong province to a family of farmers, in Dalan Township (which he fictionalised in his novels as “Northeast Township” of Gaomi County). Mo was 11 years old when the Cultural Revolution was launched, at which time he left school to work as a farmer. At the age of 18, he began work at a cotton factory. During Mo’s formative years, which coincided with a succession of political campaigns from the Great Leap Forward to the Cultural Revolution, his access to literature was limited to novels in the socialist realist style under Mao Zedong, which centered largely on the themes of class struggle and conflict. At the close of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, Mo enlisted in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and began writing while he was still a soldier. In 1984, he received a literary award from the PLA Magazine, and the same year began attending the Military Art Academy, where he first adopted the pen name of Mo Yan. He published his first novella, A Transparent Radish, in 1984, and released Red Sorghum in 1986, launching his career as a nationally recognized novelist. In 1991, he obtained a master’s degree in Literature from Beijing Normal University.