The Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded Thursday morning to Chinese writer Mo Yan, with the citation praising him for his “hallucinatory realism” that “merges folk tales, history and the contemporary.” Mo, a pseudonym for Guan Moye, is one of China’s best-selling (and most pirated) authors in the country, and his work, according to the Swedish Academy, “created a world reminiscent in its complexity of those in the writings of William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez, at the same time finding a departure point in old Chinese literature and in oral tradition.” Mo was said to be “overjoyed and terrified” to win the prize.
Like many Nobel winners, Mo is published by a number of houses, largely small presses, though RED SORGHUM was released by Penguin in 1994 and by Cornerstone in the UK this past July (with the digital edition published today.) Other works include BIG BREASTS AND WIDE HIPS, THE GARLIC BALLADS, and LIFE AND DEATH ARE WEARING ME OUT, originally published in the US by Arcade and reissued by Skyhorse. Arcade co-founder Jeannette Seaver said in a statement: “Dick Seaver was Mo Yan’s champion from the beginning and admired this exceptional writer’s unique and original voice. He was constantly reading passages to me, and was proud to be Mo Yan’s American publisher. Mo Yan’s trajectory has been one of courage and persistence in confronting so many difficulties, and this Nobel is also testimony to this man’s extraordinary courage. My only regret is that my husband, Dick, is not witnessing this wonderful award to both the author and the outstanding translator, Howard Goldblatt.”
In addition, Seagull Press will publish his work POW next year, while the University of Oklahoma Press will bring out his novel SANDALWOOD DEATH. Mo’s longtime translator Howard Goldblatt told China Daily earlier this week that “if Mo’s name is announced on Thursday, I imagine I’ll have an opportunity to translate some earlier works I’ve not had time for.” Mo’s agent Andrew Wylie tells us he is “in discussions with publishers in all territories” with respect to the author’s back catalog and untranslated work, while Penguin is going back to press on an initial 15,000 copies for RED SORGHUM.
Nobel Prize citation
In personnel news, Jennifer Klonsky will join HarperCollins Children’s as editorial director on October 15. Previously she was editorial director for Simon & Schuster Children’s, where she managed the Simon Pulse imprint and worked on books for Aladdin Paperbacks.
At World Book Night, Laura Peraza has been named social media manager while Erin Cox will be in charge of fundraising. Peraza previously worked at Vintage; Cox was most recently a marketing manager at Simon & Schuster children’s.