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Mo Yan wins Nobel prize for literature

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Chinese writer Mo Yan has won the 2012 Nobel prize for literature.

Mo Yan, whose pen name translates as "Don't speak", was awarded literature's highest honour by the Stockholm-based Nobel Academy this lunchtime (11 October).

Announcing the prize, head of the Academy Peter Englund hailed the way in which Mo "with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary."

Mo, real name Guan Moye, grew up in Shandong province in northeast China and left school at the age of 12. His writing is coloured by his childhood experiences, including his peasant background and the folk tales he was told growing up.

He has had 11 books translated into English, the best-known of which is Red Sorghum, a series of five stories detailing bandit culture, Japanese occupation and the suffering of poor farmers in the Chinese city of Gaomi. It was later made into a film, directed by Zhang Yimou.

Englund said today that Mo was "overjoyed" at being awarded the Nobel prize. "He was at home with his dad. He said he was overjoyed and terrified," he told Swedish TV.

Mo's writing style has been compared to William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez in its mixture of fantasy and reality and ability to combine historical and social perspectives.

"He has such a damn unique way of writing. If you read half a page of Mo Yan you immediately recognise it as him," Englund said.

Mo will collect the prize, worth 8 million crowns (£748,000), in a ceremony on December 10, the anniversary of the death of prize creator Alfred Nobel.

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