Chinese author Mo Yan has won the Nobel prize for literature.

Mo Yan – a pen name that means “Don’t speak” – is best known in the West for his book “Red Sorghum,” which was later turned into a film by Chinese director Zhang Yimou, Reuters reported.

The Swedish Academy, which awards the $1.2 million prize every year, praised Mo's "hallucinatory realism" which "merges folk tales, history and the contemporary," the Voice of America reported. 

Mo – whose real name is Guan Moye – is the first Chinese national to win the prestigious literary award, according to The Guardian.

Chinese-born author Gao Xingjian won the prize in 2000, but he is now a French citizen. Pearl Buck also took the prize in 1938, but she is an American writer.

Mo, who was born into a peasant family in the eastern province of Shandong and was forced to quit school and herd cattle during the Cultural Revolution, has been criticized as being too close to the Chinese Communist Party, even though some of his books have fallen foul of the country's army of censors, Reuters said. 

Mo's other titles include "Big Breasts and Wide Hips" and "The Republic of Wine."

Nobel prize announcements began Monday, with John Gurdon of the UK and Shinya Yamanaka of Japan awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in physiology for medicine. The pair discovered that adult specialized cells can be reprogrammed into stem cells.

On Tuesday, David Wineland of the US and Serge Haroche of France were awarded the 2012 Nobel prize in physics.

American scientists Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka were awarded the Nobel chemistry prize on Wednesday for their research into G-protein-coupled receptors, the mechanisms that allow cells to respond to chemical messages.

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