Mo Yan wins the Nobel Prize in Literature

Chinese author's "hallucinatory realism" is rewarded.

The 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to the Chinese novelist Mo Yan. The Prize committee commended Mo's "hallucinatory realism", which "merges folk tales, history and the contemporary". Several of Mo's novels have been translated into English, including Red Sorghum (also adapted for the cinema), The Garlic Ballads and Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out.

Pre-prize rumours suggested the recipient this year might be Canadian short story writer Alice Munro, but for the fifth year running, the jury has ignored anglophone writers.

Chinese Nobel Laureate Mo Yan (Photograph: Getty Images)
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On Wheels

A new poem by Patrick Mackie

The hills swarm and soften towards the end of the day just as
flames do in a fireplace as the evening
loosens and breaks open and lets out night.
A nasty, grotesque, impatient year ended,
and the new one will be bitter,
tired, opaque. Words wrangle in every inch of air,
their mouths wide open in stupid shock
at what they have just heard every time they hear anything. Venus,
though, blazes with heavy wobbles of albeit frozen
light. Brecht, who I like to call my
brother just as he called Shelley his,
has a short late poem where he sits by a roadside, waiting
while someone changes the wheel on his car,
watching with impatience, despite not liking
either the place that he is coming from or
the place that he is going to. We call it
connectivity when in truth it is just aggression
and imitation writ ever larger. Poems, though,
are forms of infinite and wry but also briskly
impatient patience. Brecht’s poem seems to end,
for instance, almost before you
can read it. It wheels. The goddess is just a big, bright
wilderness but then soon enough she clothes
herself again in the openness of night and I lose her.

Patrick Mackie’s latest collection, The Further Adventures Of The Lives Of The Saints, is published by CB Editions.

This article first appeared in the 18 May 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Age of Lies

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