Tag Archives: nobel prize in literature

Mo Yan: a storyteller’s moving reminiscence of life

I read and listened to MO Yan’s speech via Zhaihua’s blog today and Mo Yan’s recall of his childhood totally melts my heart.

The 2012 Nobel Literature Prize laureate Mo Yan of China gave this key speech during the traditional Nobel lecture at the Royal Swedish Academy on December 7, 2012.

Mo Yan of China: Storyteller's tribute to mother

Mo Yan of China: Storyteller’s tribute to mother

This is one of the most moving speeches I’ve ever heard in my life. The speech is a tribute to his mother. Please spare a few minutes to read this. It’s worth your 10 minutes.

【English text was translated by Howard Goldblatt】

Distinguished members of the Swedish Academy, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Through the mediums of television and the Internet, I imagine that everyone here has at least a nodding acquaintance with far-off Northeast Gaomi Township. You may have seen my ninety-year-old father, as well as my brothers, my sister, my wife and my daughter, even my granddaughter, now a year and four months old. But the person who is most on my mind at this moment, my mother, is someone you will never see. Many people have shared in the honor of winning this prize, everyone but her.

尊敬的瑞典学院各位院士,女士们、先生们:

通过电视或者网络,我想在座的各位,对遥远的高密东北乡,已经有了或多或少的了解。你们也许看到了我的九十岁的老父亲,看到了我的哥哥姐姐我的妻子女儿和我的一岁零四个月的外孙女。但有一个我此刻最想念的人,我的母亲,你们永远无法看到了。我获奖后,很多人分享了我的光荣,但我的母亲却无法分享了。

My mother was born in 1922 and died in 1994. We buried her in a peach orchard east of the village. Last year we were forced to move her grave farther away from the village in order to make room for a proposed rail line. When we dug up the grave, we saw that the coffin had rotted away and that her body had merged with the damp earth around it. So we dug up some of that soil, a symbolic act, and took it to the new gravesite. That was when I grasped the knowledge that my mother had become part of the earth, and that when I spoke to mother earth, I was really speaking to my mother.

我母亲生于1922 年,卒于1994 年。她的骨灰,埋葬在村庄东边的桃园里。去年,一条铁路要从那儿穿过,我们不得不将她的坟墓迁移到距离村子更远的地方。掘开坟墓后,我们看到,棺木已经腐朽,母亲的骨殖,已经与泥土混为一体。我们只好象征性地挖起一些泥土,移到新的墓穴里。也就是从那一时刻起,我感到,我的母亲是大地的一部分,我站在大地上的诉说,就是对母亲的诉说。

I was my mother’s youngest child.

My earliest memory was of taking our only vacuum bottle to the public canteen for drinking water. Weakened by hunger, I dropped the bottle and broke it. Scared witless, I hid all that day in a haystack. Toward evening, I heard my mother calling my childhood name, so I crawled out of my hiding place, prepared to receive a beating or a scolding. But Mother didn’t hit me, didn’t even scold me. She just rubbed my head and heaved a sigh. Continue reading

What’s a Brother Coming?

丰乳肥臀 (fēng rǔ féi tún) by MO Yan, in English translation.


I got my inspiration for this blog post from this Chinese post by ZHAI Hua.

This post is about MO Yan’s big hit, the novel Big Breasts & Wide Hips, translated by Howard Goldblatt from Chinese.

In this novel, the youngest and the most precious boy is named 上官金童 shàngguán jīn tóng (Surname: shàngguán. Given name: jīn tóng, literally means golden boy.) has 8 older sisters (including one twin sister.)

shàngguán jīn tóng’s twin sister has a sweet name called 上官玉女 shàngguán yù nǚ (literally means Jade Maiden). Continue reading

Life and Death are Wearing me Out, MO Yan banner

MO Yan(莫言) wants you to read this novel, “Life and Death are Wearing Me Out”

What shall we do about MO Yan 莫言?

1) Yes, he’s the star in 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature. 2) He writes heavy-weight novels with seductive titles such as Big Breasts & Wide Hips. 3) But he writes in Chinese!

So, which book shall we start with? MO Yan announced today that the answer is: Continue reading

MO Yan (Image from Baidu)

Weekly Writing Challenge: An ‘interview’ with MO Yan, potential Nobel Literature winner 2012

Weekly Writing Challenge: Leave your comfort zone; write something different.

At 11.00 GMT on Oct 11, the latest Nobel Prize winner in Literature will be born. 莫言 (MO Yan), a distinguished Chinese writer, could change history. Since 1901, China has never produced a Nobel Prize winner in Literature. MO Yan could possibly be the first Chinese writer who breaks the curse. If he wins, he will be the FIRST Chinese who is resident in China to have won this award.

This is exciting. I really can’t wait.

In 2000, the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Gao Xingjian 高行健,  of Chinese origin, later a French citizen. That was the closest China was vaguely connected to the Nobel Prize in Literature.

As a Weekly Writing Challenge, I’m going to introduce MO Yan to the world, in the form of a fake interview. (Trust me, I’ve done some research.)

Which one is your surname, Mo or Yan?

MO is my surname of course! (What a stupid question!) This is a Chinese name; Chinese surname comes before the given name. Understand? Continue reading