Mo recently won China's prestigious Mao Dun literary award -- a potential indication that China has become more open to talking about the issue.
He also is famous for his novels "Red Sorghum," a story that takes place during the Japanese occupation of China during World War II, and "Big Breasts and Wide Hips," described as an epic about women. He was asked by Granta if he considers himself a feminist or if he is "simply drawn to write from a female perspective."
"First of all, I admire and respect women. I think they are very noble and their life experience and the hardship a woman can endure is always much greater than a man. When we encounter great disasters, women are always more brave than men -- I think because they have their due capacity, they are also mothers.
"The strength that this brings is something we can't imagine. In my books I try to put myself in the shoes of women, I try to understand and interpret this world from the perspective of women. But the bottom line is I am not a woman: I'm a male writer. And the world I interpreted in my books as if I were a woman, might not be well received by women themselves but that is not something I can do anything about. I love and admire women, but nonetheless I am a man," he said.
Mo told Time that he doesn't worry about censorship when deciding what to write. He told the magazine that the "inability to attack some topics head on is actually an advantage."
"There are certain restrictions on writing in every country," he said. "One of the biggest problems in literature is the lack of subtlety. A writer should bury his thoughts deep and convey them through the characters in his novel."
"By placing much of his writing in the past, and through the adroit subtlety of his magic-realist style, Mo Yan avoids stirring up the animosity of the country's ever vigilant censors any more than he needs to," the Time interview said.
After the award was announced, Chinese national pride rippled across the Internet. "China," one commenter said on the Nobel website, "is rising."
Mo himself "was overjoyed and scared," Chinese state media reported, citing a Nobel committee member who informed the author of the prize.
Chinese authorities and many Chinese people regard Mo as the first to win the literature prize. The prize in 2000 went to Chinese writer Gao Xingjian, who was born and educated in China but is now a French citizen.
Favorites for this year's award included American folk singer Bob Dylan, Canadian author Alice Munro, American novelist Philip Roth and Japanese author Haruki Murakami.
Murakami and Dylan were also favorites among bookies last year, but Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer won the million-dollar prize.