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China's Nobel laureate in literature not rich

By Pang Li  (

16:59, October 17, 2012

Chinese writer Mo Yan. (

The Chinese winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Mo Yan does not have a large income and shares a Beijing apartment with four of his family members, his wife said recently as China News Agency reported.

Du Qinlan, who married Mo 30 years ago, said that her husband's only stable income comes from serving as dean of the Literature College under the Chinese National Academy of Arts. But she did not reveal the exact amount of this annual income.

Du said that it usually takes Mo several years to write a book, but royalties from his works suffer from the serious threat of piracy, thus shrinking his income.

Du has been a full-time housewife since they moved to Beijing and cannot provide any extra income for the family. At the same time, Mo has to support his 90-year-old father. She said that she for example rarely buys meat, which even leads the neighbors to speculate about their household. Even though they do not make a grand living, Mo is very generous to his hometown. One of the villagers in Mo's hometown said that Mo once donated 30,000 yuan (about US$4,800) to a local road project.

Du said that she, her husband, daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter are now crammed together in a 91 square meter apartment in Beijing. They do intend to buy a larger apartment, which Mo actually said he would be using his US$1.2 million prize money for.

Mo, whose real name is Guan Moye, was born to a family of farmers in Gaomi, Shandong Province, in 1955. He was forced to leave school in the fifth grade as China's Cultural Revolution broke loose. Nevertheless, he managed to teach himself and was later admitted to the PLA Academy of Arts. In the 1980s, he began writing novels and short stories, slowly garnering name and fame in the field of literature. Several of his novels have been adapted to the big screen; one of them being "Red Sorghum." The film, going by the same title and directed by Chinese director Zhan Yimou, won a Golden Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1988. Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize in Literature this year for the writer "with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary".

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