2013 Nobel Prize in Literature
Alice Munro was born on the 10th of July, 1931 in Wingham, which is in the Canadian province of Ontario. Her mother was a teacher, and her father was a fox farmer. After finishing high school, she began studying journalism and English at the University of Western Ontario, but broke off her studies when she got married in 1951. Together with her husband, she settled in Victoria, British Columbia, where the couple opened a bookstore. Munro started writing stories in her teens, but published her first book-length work in 1968, the story collection Dance of the Happy Shades, which received considerable attention in Canada. She had begun publishing in various magazines from the beginning of the 1950's. In 1971 she published a collection of stories entitled Lives of Girls and Women, which critics have described as a Bildungsroman.
Munro is primarily known for her short stories and has published many collections over the years. Her works include Who Do You Think You Are? (1978), The Moons of Jupiter (1982), Runaway (2004), The View from Castle Rock (2006) and Too Much Happiness (2009). The collection Hateship, Friendship, Cour tship, Loveship, Marriage (2001) became the basis of the film Away from Her from 2006, directed by Sarah Polley. Her most recent collection is Dear Life (2012).
Munro is acclaimed for her finely tuned stor ytelling, which is characterized by clarity and psychological realism. Some critics consider her a Canadian Chekhov. Her stories are often set in small town environments, where the struggle for a socially accep table existence often results in strained relationships and moral conflicts — problems that stem from generational differences and colliding life ambitions. Her texts often feature depictions of everyday but decisive events, epiphanies of a kind, that illuminate the surrounding story and let existential questions appear in a flash of lightning.
Among the many awards and prizes she has received are: three Governor General’s Literary Awards and two Giller Prizes in Canada; the Rea Award, the Lannan Literary Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Man Booker International Prize. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Paris Review, and other publications, and her collections have been translated into thirteen languages.
Alice Munro currently resides in Clinton,near her childhood home in southwestern Ontario.
2012 Nobel Prize for Literature
Mo Yan (a pseudonym for Guan Moye meaning "Don't Speak") is an often banned and widely pirated Chinese author. He is known in the West for two of his novels which were the basis of the film Red Sorghum.
He was born in 1955 and grew up in Gaomi in Shandong province in north-eastern China. His parents were farmers. As a twelve-year-old during the Cultural Revolution he left school to work, first in agriculture, later in a factory. In 1976 he joined the People's Liberation Army and during this time began to study literature and write. His first short story was published in a literary journal in 1981. His breakthrough came a few years later with the novella Touming de hong luobo (1986, published in French as Le radis de cristal 1993).
In his writing Mo Yan draws on his youthful experiences and on settings in the province of his birth. This is apparent in his novel Hong gaoliang jiazu (1987, in English Red Sorghum 1993). The book consists of five stories that unfold and interweave in Gaomi in several turbulent decades in the 20th century, with depictions of bandit culture, the Japanese occupation and the harsh conditions endured by poor farm workers. Red Sorghum was successfully filmed in 1987, directed by Zhang Yimou. The novel Tiantang suantai zhi ge (1988, in English The Garlic Ballads 1995) and his satirical Jiuguo (1992, in English The Republic of Wine 2000) have been judged subversive because of their sharp criticism of contemporary Chinese society.
Fengru feitun (1996, in English Big Breasts and Wide Hips 2004) is a broad historical fresco portraying 20th-century China through the microcosm of a single family. The novel Shengsi pilao (2006, in English Life and Death are Wearing Me Out 2008) uses black humour to describe everyday life and the violent transmogrifications in the young People's Republic, while Tanxiangxing (2004, to be published in English as Sandalwood Death 2013) is a story of human cruelty in the crumbling Empire. Mo Yan's latest novel WaGrenouilles (2011) illuminates the consequences of China's imposition of a single-child policy. (2009, in French).
Through a mixture of fantasy and reality, historical and social perspectives, Mo Yan has created a world reminiscent in its complexity of those in the writings of William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez, at the same time finding a departure point in old Chinese literature and in oral tradition. In addition to his novels, Mo Yan has published many short stories and essays on various topics, and despite his social criticism is seen in his homeland as one of the foremost contemporary authors.