Mo Yan, the Chinese author of "Red Sorghum” and "The Garlic Ballads," won the Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday.
The Nobel committee said it had selected Mo to receive the honor because his work "with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary." Mo's award comes with a prize worth more than $1 million.
The selection was tinged with politics. Mo hails for a country with a frosty relationship with artistic expression.
However, he has managed to successfully navigate Chinese censors. Some of his work, such as "The Garlic Ballads," has skewered Chinese society or been banned. But as The New York Times notes, he is not considered a radical.
Mo's work, with its ripples of magical realism and social commentary, has been likened to that of Franz Kafka. "Red Sorghum," set during the second Sino-Japanese War, has been adapted into a film by Zhang Yimou. Other works include "Big Breasts & Wide Hips" and "Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out."
Mo Yan is a pen name for the 57-year old author, whose given name is Guan Moye.
Mo's selection continues the Nobel committee's predilection for rewarding lesser-known global talents over higher profile authors such as Thomas Pynchon, Alice Munro or Philip Roth. Leading up to today's announcement, bookmakers had favored Japanese author Haruki Murakami, but his science fiction-infused fantasias may have have been too fanciful and popularly embraced for the committee.
Mo is the second Chinese Nobel Laureate. Chinese novelist Gao Xingjian won in 2000.