As a novelist who has managed to excel under the mainland's strict censorship regime, Nobel Prize laureate Mo Yan has been called many things. It's safe to say that "ballroom dancer" was never one them.
But the much sought-after writer and his wife have been practicing their dance steps in preparation for the grand ceremonies in Stockholm next month when he will become the first Chinese national to receive the coveted literature award.
Mo Yan's elder brother, Guan Moxian, disclosed the author's dance lessons on Friday, during a forum hosted by Shandong University's School of Literature, Journalism and Communication in Jinan on Friday.
Guan said Mo Yan, who's real name is Guan Moye, has been practicing a speech for the December 10 award ceremonies and consulting tailors to make a tuxedo for himself and gowns for his wife and daughter.
"Mo Yan is learning dancing, too, because he said the Swedish king and queen will be present that day and he should let himself fit in with the event's grand atmosphere," Guan said.
Mo Yan told national broadcaster CCTV last month that he has been working on several novels simultaneously. Guan said Mo Yan's next published work would have an anti-corruption theme and would, like many of his previous books, be set in their hometown of Gaomi , Shandong province.
Twelve years Mo Yan's senior, Guan has helped guide his younger brother's literary career. He said Mo Yan demonstrated his writing talent early on and was a perceptive child.
"As a young boy, he was sensitive and swiftly understood adults' facial expressions and the meaning behind their words," Guan said. He recalled how an 11-year-old Mo Yan once concluded that Guan was in love just by looking at the envelope of a letter his girlfriend had sent.
Guan said Mo Yan has been so busy since the Nobel Prize was announced last month that the brothers still have not been able to meet for a chat about it.