October 31, 2012

Mo Yan liquor brand fetches $1.6m


If you’ve ever bought anything stupid while drunk, this might make you feel better.

Six years ago some Chinese guy got drunk and registered the domain name ‘Mo Yan Zui’, which thanks to the Nobel Prize he’s just sold for 10 million yuan — that’s US$1.6m.

Mo Yan — in case you haven’t already read this 239,479,283,457 times in the last few weeks — is a pen name meaning ‘Don’t Speak’ in Chinese, used by the Nobel winner whose real name is Guan Moye.

Translated the old-fashioned, pre-Important Person way, the phrase means ‘Don’t say that you are drunk.’ The Shanghai Daily reports that an engineer surnamed Hou registered it six years ago, while shitfaced and feeling transported by an ancient Chinese poem — and who hasn’t been there?

He subsequently had an abortive, collaborative attempt at producing a liquor product to sell from the site, then let it lay dormant. Cut to six years later, when Chinese booze companies are falling all over each other to sell all-new Nobel-Prize-for-Literature-endorsed booze.

The most delightful part of this — as Michael Orthofer (thanks for the link!) points out — is that ‘Mo Yan Zui’ can translate as either ‘Don’t say that you are drunk’ or, now, ‘Drunken Mo Yan’.

If any more proof was needed of how fucking badly China wanted this Nobel, here it is, in this absurdly priced domain name.

I’ve checked, and wankeredpinter.com and hemingwaycantstandup.com are still available, so knock yourselves out.

Ellie Robins is an editor at Melville House. Previously, she was managing editor of Hesperus Press.