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red sorghum

Chinese author Mo Yan has been awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize for literature.

A prolific author, 57-year-old Mo Yan has published dozens of short stories, with his first work published in 1981.

The Swedish Academy praised Mo Yan’s work which “with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary”.

Mo Yan is the first Chinese resident to win the prize. Chinese-born Gao Xingjian was honored in 2000, but is a French citizen.

Mo Yan is the 109th recipient of the prestigious prize, won last year by Swedish poet Tomas Transtroemer.

Chinese author Mo Yan has been awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize for literature

Chinese author Mo Yan has been awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize for literature

Presented by the Nobel Foundation, the award – only given to living writers – is worth 8 million kronor ($1.2 million).

Born Guan Moye, the author writes under the pen name Mo Yan, which means “don’t speak” in Chinese.

He began writing while a soldier in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and received international fame in 1987 for Red Sorghum: A Novel of China.

Made into a film by Chinese director Zhang Yimou, the novella was a tale of the brutal violence in the eastern China countryside where he grew up during the 1920s and 1930s.

Favoring to write about China’s past rather than contemporary issues, the settings for Mo Yan’s works range from the 1911 revolution, Japan’s wartime invasion and Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution.

His other acclaimed works include Republic of Wine, Life And Death Are Wearing Me Out and Big Breasts and Wide Hips.

The latter book caused controversy when it was published in 1995 for its sexual content and depicting a class struggle contrary to the Chinese Communist Party line.

The author was forced by the PLA to withdraw it from publication although it was pirated many times.

After it was translated into English a decade later, the book won him a nomination for the Man Asian Literary Prize.

His latest novel, Frog, about China’s “one child” population control policy, won the Mao Dun Literature Prize – one of China’s most prestigious literature prizes – last year.