The Nobel Winner Trumps the NBA Finalists



The former head of the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize in Literature, Horace Engdahl, said in 2008, “The U.S. is too isolated, too insular. They don’t translate enough and don’t really participate in the big dialogue of literature. That ignorance is restraining,”

As if to refute that accusation, Americans sent translations of the new Nobel Prize winner, Mo Yan’s books, zooming up Amazon’s sales rankings, one of them well ahead of all the recently announced National Book Award finalists.

Red Sorghum: a Novel of China (Penguin/Viking) rose to #16 this morning. The highest ranking NBA finalist, This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz, rose to #44 on the news of its nomination. Red Sorghum was featured as the lead-in to an interview with Mo’s primary English translator, Howard Goldblatt, on NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday.

Also on the rise are the following, published by Arcade Publishing. Norton, which distributes Arcade, has alerted us that reprints will be available on Monday through wholesalers:

#73 (was #114,315) — Life and Death are Wearing Me Out 

#129 (previously unranked) —  The Garlic Ballads 

#165 (was #239,260) — Big Breasts and Wide Hips

Unranked (listed on Amazon as out of print; reprint coming on Monday) — The Republic of Wine, (excerpted in the Wall Street Journal this week).

In an appraisal of the author’s work in today’s New York Times, Howard Goldblatt, described as “Mr. Mo’s adroit translator,” offers this advice to people who want to read Mo’s books,

If you like Poe, you’ll love the forthcoming Sandalwood Death [University of Oklahoma Press; early January 2013]; if you’re more Rabelaisian, The Republic of Wine will appeal, and if you’re fond of a fabulist, I recommend Life and Death are Wearing Me Out.

The NYT also offers brief excerpts from the books.

As we noted earlier, the Guardian gives a handy rundown of “Mo Yan’s best books — in pictures.”

Comments are closed.