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Mo Yan

Author of Red Sorghum

103+ Works 4,251 Members 133 Reviews 6 Favorited

About the Author

Mo Yan is the pseudonym of Guan Moye, who was born in Gaomi, Shandong Province, China on March 5, 1955. He became a teenager during the Cultural Revolution, leaving school to work first on a farm and then in a cottonseed oil factory. He started writing while he was serving in the People's show more Liberation Army. His first short story was published in 1981. His works include Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out, Red Sorghum, The Garlic Ballads, Big Breasts and Wide Hips, The Republic of Wine, and Sandalwood Death. He received the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Mo Yan - Photo: © J. Kolfhaus

Works by Mo Yan

Red Sorghum (1987) 1,101 copies
The Garlic Ballads (1988) 471 copies
Big Breasts and Wide Hips (1996) 433 copies
The Republic of Wine (2000) 327 copies
Frog (2009) 325 copies
Sandalwood Death (2001) 157 copies
Change (2010) 141 copies
POW! (2008) 120 copies
Radish (Penguin Specials) (2015) 23 copies
Les Treize Pas (1998) 19 copies
Le chantier (1983) 12 copies
La Carte au trésor (2004) 10 copies
Le radis de cristal (2000) 9 copies
Değişim (2016) 9 copies
Enfant de fer: nouvelles (2004) 6 copies
Trece pasos (2015) 5 copies
Saydam Turp (2000) 4 copies
Le grand chambard (2013) 4 copies
La Joie (2007) 3 copies
Granatkastaren (2016) 3 copies
Žabe (2016) 3 copies
Zaby (2014) 2 copies
Bum! (2013) 2 copies
莫言精选 (2010) 2 copies
Içki Cumhuriyeti (2020) 2 copies
Flores tardías (2022) 1 copy
Cambioa 1 copy
Meeting the Masters (2012) 1 copy
Ears to read (speech) (2012) 1 copy
The Woman with Flowers (1993) 1 copy
莫言訪問 1 copy
Zmiany (2013) 1 copy
Sorok odna khlopushka (2021) 1 copy
Si ling de nü ren (2012) 1 copy
Hong gao liang (1986) 1 copy

Associated Works

Choice Words: Writers on Abortion (2020) — Contributor — 75 copies
Literaire rechtspraak — Contributor, some editions — 1 copy


Common Knowledge



Is Mo Yan one of the Nobel laureates who shouldn't be? in Nobel Laureates in Literature (February 2013)
Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out - discussion in Read Mo Yan (February 2013)
The Garlic Ballads - discussion in Read Mo Yan (February 2013)
Red Sorghum - discussion in Read Mo Yan (December 2012)
Sandalwood Death - discussion in Read Mo Yan (November 2012)
Pow! - discussion in Read Mo Yan (November 2012)
Big Breasts & Wide Hips - discussion in Read Mo Yan (November 2012)
The Republic of Wine - discussion in Read Mo Yan (November 2012)


I know it's lazy to describe a book in terms of other books, but when I say that "Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out" has the Lebenslust and earthiness of Rabelais — the fantastical evocation of village life and the life of children of The Tin Drum — the satirical perversity of Swift and Gogol (whose Dead Souls shares this book's interest in the risks and opportunities of turbulent times) — that goes some way to explaining why I loved it. It reminded me too of European writers like Gombrowicz, Konwicki, Hrabal, and Hašek, in its irreverent humour and surrealistic flirtations against a backdrop of buereaucratic terror. And although I've read very little Chinese literature, I was delighted to trace a stylistic and thematic line from Cao Xueqin, whose mastery of tonal shifts — from sentimental to slapstick, sometimes in a single chapter — and eschewal of black and white morality, archetypes and clichés are equally evident in Mo Yan's multi-generational story. In short, I fucking loved it.… (more)
yarb | 8 other reviews | May 28, 2024 |
what an extraordinary story teller Yan is. this is the second novel of his I have read, and though I think I preferred 'life and death are wearing me out' this was also just amazing. magic melds with time as the story meanders through peasant life 100 odd years ago. timelines criss-cross generations, war and peace, love and betrayal, beauty and ugliness, but it doesn't really matter as you float along with them all.
diveteamzissou | 40 other reviews | Apr 3, 2024 |
This book, which I believe is Mo Yan's first novel was originally published in serial form in five parts. It is the story of three generations of the rural Shandong family, largely narrated by the grandson of the family, but primarily featuring the father and grandfather of the family. Most of the story focuses on the exploits of the father (then a young teen) and the grandfather (Grandfather Yu), a former bandit, during the Sino-Japanese war of the late 1930's. The father and grandfather were resistance fighters against the Japanese, but there was often frequent and intense on-going conflict among various rival Chinese groups warring at the same time.

The book is gory, violent and brutal, yet at the same time it is often lyrically beautiful. There are vivid descriptions of the landscape, particularly of the sorghum fields and rivers surrounding the village. Red sorghum from the fields are used by the Shandong family to make the wine that provides the family with their livelihood. But the sorghum fields are also blood-soaked, forming "a glittering sea of blood," and littered with the bones of the violently killed.

The story is told non-chronologically, which I sometimes found confusing. Someone who died chapters ago, suddenly reappears in a pivotal role, for example, and this took some getting used to. The book is also permeated with elements of folk tale and myth, mostly unfamiliar to me, which again affected my reading experience.

In awarding Mo the Nobel Prize, the Nobel Committee stated, "Through a mixture of fantasy and reality, historical and social perspective, Mo Yan has created a world reminiscent in its complexity of those in the writings of William Faulkner and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, at the same time finding a departure point in old Chinese literature and oral tradition."

This is another book I found difficult to read, and it also took me much longer than usual to read. In particularly the ongoing graphic violence and constant bloodshed sometimes began to grate at me. However, I do think it is an important book to read, and it was a complex, kaleidoscopic and unique book. So it is one I do recommend.

4 stars
… (more)
arubabookwoman | 40 other reviews | Dec 28, 2023 |
Il racconto migliore: Esplosioni.

La mano di mio padre si solleva lentamente, per tre secondi rimane sospesa all’altezza delle spalle, poi colpisce con violenza la mia guancia sinistra. La mano e’ segnata da solchi profondi, impregnata dell’acre profumo della paglia e di quello bruciante del grano maturo. Sessant’anni di lavoro hanno conferito a quella mano una dura forza e un’immensa dignita’.

Presto i suoi vagiti si fanno continui, e inondano la sala parto trasformandola in uno stagno...
...come le rane

E nonostante tutto, nel campo di girasoli, mi pervase la speranza. Numerosissimi calici penzolanti mi fissavano con attenzione e benevolenza come tantissime faccine di neonati.
… (more)
NewLibrary78 | Jul 22, 2023 |



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