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"For me personally it’s the realization of a dream I’ve had for years finally coming true. It’s suddenly a reality," said Mo’s publisher, Cao Yuanyong, deputy editor-in-chief of Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing House. Cao said he and a dozen colleagues were toasting Mo in his absence with red wine in a Shanghai restaurant Thursday night.
Born in 1955 to a farming family, Mo chose his penname while writing his first novel to remind himself to hold his tongue and stay out of trouble. His early education was cut short by the Cultural Revolution, a decade of political chaos when many of China’s schools closed down. To escape rural poverty, he joined the army in 1976 and, while still a soldier, started writing in 1981.
His breakthrough came with the novel "Red Sorghum" published in 1987. Set in a small village, it is an earthy tale of love and peasant struggles set against the backdrop of the anti-Japanese war. It was turned into a film that won the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1988, marked the directing debut of Zhang Yimou and boosted Mo’s popularity.
His output has been prolific, which has contributed to his popularity and his impact. His works have been translated into English, Russian, French, German and many other languages, giving him an audience well beyond the Chinese-speaking world.
Goldblatt, who has translated nine of Mo’s books, said Mo is a remarkable storyteller in the Chinese literary tradition. "But he never moves that far from social conscience and looking into what is wrong and how we deal with it," he said.———
Nordstrom reported from Stockholm. Associated Press writers Didi Tang in Beijing and Hillel Italie in New York contributed to this report.
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