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Nobel laureate's new book debuts amid 'Mo-mania'

Updated: 2012-10-17 11:19
( Xinhua)

BEIJING - A new book by the Nobel literature prize winner Mo Yan hit the Chinese market on Wednesday amid "Mo-mania" that has been sweeping the country since his success last week.

Only 100 copies of "Our Jing Ke", a collection of three plays, were on sale in the Genuine & Profound bookstore at a launch organized by the Beijing Genuine & Profound Culture Development Company.

The company, the only authorized publishing firm of the book on the Chinese mainland, also holds the rights to adapt some of Mo Yan's works into films.

"The first issue had a print run of 200,000 copies," said Tang Juan, the vice head of the company's marketing department. "But we only got the first batch last night and the others are still at the printers."

She said the new book, which is expected to be sold in other parts of the country after Friday, is being pre-ordered at leading online bookstores.

Around 3,000 copies have been ordered at and over 2,000 at

"One of my friends in Wuhan (central China) asked me to buy some copies for him," said Xiong Kui, a Beijing resident who was waiting in the cold outside the bookstore.

On the cover of the new book are the golden Nobel prize logo and the illustration of "by China's first Nobel Literature Prize winner Mo Yan."

Chen Wangzhi, marketing director of Beijing Genuine & Profound Culture Development Company, said the book will be a best-seller. "We will print more, altogether 300,000 to 500,000 copies at least," he said.

Chen said film companies had been contacting him to discuss the adaption of Mo's works, including "Big Breasts and Wide Hips" and "Frog," into films.

The release of the new book came less than a week after Mo was announced winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature on October 11.

"Due to Mo Yan's success, we decided to publish the book ahead of schedule," said Hong Xue, editor of the book.

Published by the Beijing-based New World Press, the book consists of three plays, including "Our Jing Ke," "Farewell to My Concubine" and "Wife of the Boiler Worker."

Two of them are based on tales of Chinese history and the third is about an ill-fated "zhiqing", urban youth who were sent to the countryside for "re-education" by peasants during China's "cultural revolution" (1966-1976).

"Our Jing Ke" re-tells a story about Jing Ke, an assassin famous for his failed attempt to kill a king, who later moved on to become China's first emperor more than 2,000 years ago.

But the Chinese household story is told from a new perspective in the book, where Jing's assassination attempt is reinterpreted into a result of his desire for instant fame, rather than a result of chivalry and altruism.

"Farewell to My Concubine" is about the melancholy love story between Xiang Yu, a Chinese warlord during the second century BC and his concubine who killed herself.

"The Wife of the Boiler Worker" tells of a story about a female pianist who was re-educated in the countryside and married a boiler worker.

In "To Write with a Focus on People", the preface to his new book, Mo said although the anthology of plays consists of "simple contents," he treasured the book.

"It is easy to reveal society's dark side, but really hard to reveal the dark side of oneself. I need to dissect myself in the future in a heavy-handed way, to write with a focus on myself," he said. "It is an important part when 'writing with a focus on people'."

In the preface, which Mo wrote after being awarded the Mao Dun Literature Prize, China's most prestigious award for novels, last year he wrote "I will try my best to forget the award in 10 curb my growing vanity."

The writer, whose pen name "Mo Yan" literally means "Do not speak," was not at the launch.

The 57-year-old writer has published 11 novels, 20-plus novellas and over 80 stories since 1982.

Since Mo Yan's success, Chinese readers have been hunting for his books. Many had heard of Mo but did not know what he had written, except for "Red Sorghum", which was adapted into an internationally award-winning movie.

Bookstores in Chinese cities have been left with empty shelves.

"Books written by Mo Yan did not sell well until last week," said a manager surnamed Wang with the Xinhua Book Store in Zibo City of east China's Shandong Province, where Mo's hometown Gaomi City is located.

"We have ordered more of his books, especially the best-selling 'Frog'," he said, referring to Mo's latest novel that tells of China's "One-Child Policy."