Source: Agencies | 2012-12-9 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
Mo Yan, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature
CHINESE writer Mo Yan, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature, described himself as a storyteller in a lecture at the Swedish Academy on Friday afternoon.
It is telling stories that earned him the prize, said the Nobel laureate.
In his much-awaited Nobel lecture, entitled "Storytellers," the 57-year-old novelist talked about how he started storytelling as a child and shared with the listeners his memory of his childhood and his mother, "the person who is most on my mind at this moment."
Dedicating the speech to his late mother, the literature laureate focused on describing his poor upbringing in the rural eastern Chinese village of Gaomi in Shandong Province. He said it was here he learned "what real courage is," and that taught him to understand true compassion.
He also recalled memories of being surrounded by adults instead of children of his own age after he dropped out of school, which "created a powerful reality" in his mind and later became a part of his own fiction.
Most of his works are set in this rural environment, including probably his best known novel to English-language readers, "Red Sorghum," thanks in part to Zhang Yimou's acclaimed film adaptation. The novel has sold nearly 50,000 copies in the US, according to publisher Penguin.
Mo's output has been prolific, which has contributed to his popularity and his impact, with books translated into English, Russian, French, German and many other languages.
The Nobel jury in Stockholm awarded Mo, a popular writer in his homeland, the 2012 prize for his ability to use the written word in a way that "with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary."
Among other highlighted works by the Nobel judges also were "Big Breasts and Wide Hips," "The Garlic Ballads" and "Frogs," that centers on Chinese government policies restricting most families to one child.
Mo's fascination for words came at an early age when he was enthralled by the tales of wondering storytellers on market day. He began to embellish their narratives when repeating their stories at home and soon was making up his own fables.
His mother was fascinated by his stories, but wondered if he might one day "wind up prattling for a living."
"Many interesting things have happened to me in the wake of winning the prize, and they have convinced me that truth and justice are alive and well," said Mo.
"So I will continue telling my stories in the days to come," he said at the end of his lecture.
Along with the Nobel prize winners of physics, chemistry, medicine and economics, Mo will accept his award from Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf in Stockholm on Monday.