The author Mo Yan (pen-name of Guan Moye which in Chinese means “Don’t Speak”), winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2012, is well-known in his birthplace, China, and worldwide. Of his over 20 works, he is best known in China and the United States for his book Red Sorguhm (Hong Gao Liang), parts of which were made into a Chinese movie of the same name in 1987. The book itself, in English, is in the Main Collection under call number PL2886.O1684 H8613 1994. The video is in the Browsing VHS Collection under call number PN1997 .H655 1991. If you want to watch it, but don’t have a VHS player, you can use one of the library’s group study rooms equipped with an appropriate player. If you prefer to borrow the book in Chinese or the video in DVD format, try UW Request through Research@UWW or ILLiad to get it from another library.
Set in provincial China and told through flashbacks and foreshadowing, Red Sorghum, Mo Yan’s debut novel and first U.S. publication, follows the intertwined histories of three generations of Chinese during the tumultuous and violent years stretching from the Sino-Japanese war of the 1930s to the 1970s, where cruelty comes not only from the Japanese, but from amongst the Chinese themselves. Take a look at NoveList for a few concise reviews of the novel, or surf the Internet in search of longer ones, such as this one from The Independent. Many articles about Mo Yan and his works, including these from the New York Times, can be found using any Internet browser or library databases such as Academic Search Complete from EbscoHost and LexisNexis Academic .
His later works really showcase his ability and are quite varied, yet all related to China. For something completely different, try out the metafictional The Republic of Wine. According to Contemporary Authors, the main story follows “an inspector sent to the fictitious Chinese province of Liquorland to investigate reports of male babies being reared as exotic meat dishes for the rich and corrupt, is framed by correspondence between a fictitious aspiring writer from Liquorland and Yan himself.” Sounds intriguing, no? Use this link to HALcat to get the locations and call numbers of The Republic of Wine and all other Mo Yan books in the Andersen Library, as well as the video Red Sorghum and another DVD in which he is featured.
Yan is surrounded by controversy. Many vocal dissidents are outraged about his Nobel Prize because he has worked with the Chinese Communist party for decades. For many ordinary Chinese, however, the prize was a sign that their cultural influence may now rival their economic clout according to Jonathan Kaiman of The Guardian. For more about the controversy and Yan’s response to it check out this article from The Guardian.
If you’ve read any of Mo Yan’s novels or short stories, we’d love to hear from you. Just drop us a line below. Enjoy these last few weeks of summer!