Former UI International Writing Program participant awarded 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature


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Mo Yan, a 2004 participant in the University of Iowa International Writing Program, has been awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Mo is best known for his 1987 novel Hong Gaoliang Jiazu (in English, Red Sorghum). An internationally acclaimed film adaptation of the novel, directed by Zhang Yimou, won the Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival.

Mo joined the army in 1976 and attended the Army Academy of Art and Literature.  He graduated in 1986 and received a Master of Arts and literature from Beijing Normal University. He left the army to become a professional writer in the late 1990s.

He received the Mao Dun Literature Prize in 2011. The Nobel Prize carries a value of approximately $1.2 million. It will be presented in a ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10.

“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,” the Nobel Foundation said in a press release.

Mo is the second IWP resident to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. In 2006, novelist Orhan Pamuk received the honor.

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