Name at birth: Guan Moye
Mo Yan is the pen name of Guan Moye, the author of Red Sorghum Clan and The Garlic Ballads, and the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2012. He grew up in Northeast China, during the tumultuous times of the Mao's Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Mo Yan published his first short story in 1981, and by the end of the '80s he had earned respect as an author in the William Faulkner mode -- he'd created a folklore-inspired microcosm that explored, revealed and reflected both the past and the future of Chinese society. His combination of fantasy and folklore have also brought comparisons to author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The 1988 film version of his book, Red Sorghum (starring Li Gong), was an international box office hit, and Mo Yan achieved celebrity status. His short stories and novels have brought him international acclaim, but in recent years he has been criticized for being too "inside the system" because of his good standing with Chinese officials. His Nobel Prize also created some controversy; his critics said he's too cozy with oppressive authorities. His works in English (thanks to translator Howard Goldblatt) include The Garlic Ballads (1995) Big Breasts & Wide Hips (2005) and Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out (2008).
The pen name “Mo Yan” means “don’t talk.”