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Nobel laureate Mo Yan's hometown glory (3)

(Global Times)

10:28, October 24, 2012

Mo Yan and his teacher Zhang Zuosheng Photo: Xu Ming/ GT

Above and beyond

Mo's first writing attempts in the 1970s are widely acknowledged as the start of his literary career. But perhaps Mo's foray into literature started when a neighbor told Mo that a novelist could eat dumplings for three meals a day, inspiring the then hunger-stricken Mo to dream of a career in writing.

It could also be when Mo's composition was praised by his teacher Zhang Zuosheng, who taught Mo for three years. "His first composition impressed me a lot," Zhang told Global Times. It was the second term of third grade.

"I led them to the farmland and asked them to describe planting rice. While other students wrote in a flat style, Mo wrote meticulous descriptions of the figures," Zhang said.

In fourth grade, Mo wrote a composition about seeing a movie outside, which starts uniquely with the croaking of frogs.

"I showed teachers of upper levels and they were all impressed," Zhang said. "They read the article in their classes as a model. I established a composition group with other teachers for talented students, in hopes of improving their writing," he said. Unfortunately, the group broke up during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76).

Mo still keeps in touch with Zhang and visits when he returns to Gaomi. Grateful for the early encouragement, Mo sends Zhang first editions of his novels, autographed, and asks for his opinion.

"I'm not qualified to give him advice anymore, and I wouldn't dare say I taught him to be the writer he is now. He is self motivated and educated," Zhang said.

Mo has said that though he has written many novels about rural areas, he is now writing about the urbanization of the countryside.

"It's unfair to be regarded only as a writer of native soil," he said. It's speculated that the new book he is working on is set against a city backdrop.

In Zhang's eyes, Mo has already gone far beyond his hometown. "He has transplanted stories from other areas, even in foreign countries. The Nobel Prize will encourage him to do more," Zhang said.

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