|The Mo Yan Literature Museum is housed in part of a middle school.( Photo: Xu Ming/ GT)|
The Nobel Prize made Mo Yan famous around the world, but Mo has in turn made the Nobel famous in his hometown.
Residents of Gaomi, a city in Shangdong Province that inspired the setting for many of his novels, are mostly unfamiliar with international literature, let alone its most prestigious award. That's partly because China was mostly closed off to foreign authors, until their work became available again three decades ago.
Many villagers from Mo's hometown have concluded that this prize is a major one mostly by observing the rush of reporters to Ping'an village, 30 kilometers outside Gaomi, where Mo was born.
Several employees who work at the Weekly supermarket in Gaomi told the Global Times that they didn't know who Mo was before he won the Nobel Prize in Literature last week. "Since he won the prize, people talked about him so much that we started to learn about him," one worker said.
Mo, 57, got famous internationally and domestically overnight last week. His town, the setting for many of his stories, also got famous. Suddenly, the name Mo Yan, and details of his life, like where he lives and details of his childhood, seem to have been seared into the memory of Gaomi residents.
When taking a taxi, you don't need to tell the driver the address. Just need say you want to go to Mo's home. They now know where it is.
A taxi driver surnamed Sun told the Global Times that the number of people visiting Gaomi has spiked during the past week.
"They are here for Mo Yan," he said, "and most of them are journalists."
Sun said that he learned about Mo when he was in middle school, but the writer did not have much of an impact on him. "Now I have a much deeper impression," he said.
Walking around Gaomi, you can see Mo's win has left its trace on every corner of the city, from train stations to taxis, from supermarkets to the Mo Yan Literature Museum.
One week after the Nobel news, the city is still celebrating, but in a low-key and composed way. Throughout Gaomi, in both the downtown area and the outskirts, hang red banners that read, "Congratulating Mo Yan on winning the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature." Business at the Fengcheng Story Hotel is said to be booming, because Mo wrote a few lines in praise of it.