“Through a mixture of fantasy and reality, historical and social perspectives, Mo Yan has created a world reminiscent in its complexity of those in the writings of William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez, at the same time finding a departure point in old Chinese literature and in oral tradition,” read the citation for the award.
Mr. Mo has written novels, short stories, and essays on various topics. Although he isn’t very well known in America, a film based on his novel Red Sorghum received international acclaim.
“He’s written 11 novels and let’s say a hundred short stories,” Englund said. “If you want to start off to get a sense of how he is writing and also get a sense of the moral core in what he is writing I would recommend ‘The Garlic Ballads,” Peter Englund, the academy’s permanent secretary told the Associated Press
Mr. Englund said the academy had notified Mr. Mo before the announcement.”He said he was overjoyed and scared,” Mr. Englund told the Associated Press.
The normally tightly scripted Chinese national broadcast channel broke into a newscast to announce the prize and many took to Chinese social media to express pride and excitement. The reaction to the award in China was a marked difference from the reaction when jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize in 201 and when Gao Xingjian, a writer whose books are banned in China, won the literature award in 2000.
Mr. Mo was an unexpected choice for the award. Haruki Murakami had been the odds-on favorite, with Bob Dylan, Philip Roth and Alice Munro also seen as probably contenders.