The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2012 was awarded to Chinese author Mo Yan, who in his dozens of stories and novels uses magic realism to merge folk tales, China’s history and the contemporary, the Swedish Academy announced Thursday.

One of the most famous and oft-banned of all Chinese writers, Mo Yan has published many essays on various topics, in addition to his novels and short stories.

Despite his social criticism, he is seen in his homeland as one of the foremost contemporary authors. His works are reminiscent in their complexity of the writings of William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez, the academy said in a statement.

Though Chinese publications had been speculating and debating the likelihood of Mo Yan winning the prestigious prize, Japanese author Haruki Murakami, Canadian Alice Munro and American author Philip Roth were among the favorites for this year's prize.

His novel “The Garlic Ballads” and his satirical work “The Republic of Wine” have been judged subversive because of their sharp criticism of the contemporary Chinese society. “Big Breasts and Wide Hips” is a broad historical fresco portraying 20th-century China through the microcosm of a single family while the novel, “Life and Death are Wearing Me Out” uses black humor to describe everyday life and the violent transmogrifications in the young People's Republic, according to the academy.

Yan's latest novel “Wa” (2009) illuminates the consequences of China's imposition of a single-child policy.