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Chinese city seeks to cash in on Nobel Prize winner

BEIJING--A Chinese city hopes to cash in on the success of its most famous resident, Nobel Literature Prize winner Mo Yan, by investing millions in a tourist zone dedicated to the writer, Chinese media said Thursday.

Gaomi, a city in eastern China's Shandong province, will invest US$107 million in projects to honor Mo Yan, who has set most of his gritty stories of Chinese peasant life in the area, the Beijing News reported.

The city will build a “Mo Yan Culture Experience Zone,” and plant 650 hectares (1,600 acres) of red sorghum, a type of grain.

“Red Sorghum” is the title of the author's best-known work, a 1987 novella set amid the brutal violence that plagued the eastern Chinese countryside.

Local farmers once relied on sorghum but stopped growing it in the 1980s as it was unprofitable, the paper said.

The report did not indicate whether the Nobel laureate has approved the projects.

Mo Yan recently opposed plans to renovate his former residence in Gaomi because it would be funded by taxpayers' money, the Modern Express newspaper reported.

“He will still oppose any renovations even though he's won the award. It's too public, people should be low-key,” his brother told the paper.

Mo Yan is enjoying a boost in popularity with Chinese readers, who have emptied bookstore shelves in several cities in a rush to buy his novels, the China Daily reported.

Mo Yan's latest book, a collection of three plays touching on an ancient assassin and a doomed relationship between a warlord and a concubine, has been subject to heavy preorders ahead of its sale on Friday, the paper said.

Mo Yan, meaning “don't speak,” is a pen name for the author, who was born Guan Moye.

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