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Thread: Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 Speculation

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    Award Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 Speculation

    Well, yes Eric, is that time of the year again, and as our friend Apfelwurm already requested it and I'm sure many of you were thinking about it (I'm sure even Eric enjoys this type of literary gossip) here's the new speculation thread for Nobel 2011.

    To start with, here are some of the lines I started the thread a year ago:

    When I say different winner I mean everyone that has been denied in the last two decades: A poet (though I don't think there are truly important, worldwide recognized figures right now in poetry) a Spanish language writer (Hoping it's not the always mentioned Fuentes and Vargas Llosa) & Asian or African writer representative of a different culture not to commonly explored by the western culture.
    The debt with Spanish language has been settled down, so I don't think we're going to see a Spanish writing author in a few years.
    So, what we have left:

    1. POETS/(15 years) year after year we all hope to get a new poet laureate and every year we see it falling down in front of our eyes. It is obvious that a poet deserves to be back at the top of the Swedish literary world, but who? As I said the previous years, I'm sure there are great poets all around the globe, but I don't see a clear figure that can represent poetry in its origins and be a universal image of what poetry is about.

    2. USA writers/(18 years) I think it's their year. Or not? Well, all the international prizes given this year have been granted to English speaking writers (not necessarily Americans) so tendencies can be giving us a clue on what may happen in early October. There are a few UK laureates lately so it can be the US and Australia the countries that are on my mind. Or what about the Irish, with no representantion after Seamus Heany won it back in 1995. I'd still go to US, I think they're finally getting it. Who? Well here is a lot to discuss.

    3. Africa & Far-off Asia/ There is an enormous amount of talents in Africa, most of them writing in accesible languages for the Swedes (English, French, Portuguese), so why not recognize them after 25 years that Soyinka won the award?
    South Korea, Japan and China have also a great potential. It would be interesting to have the first truly Chinese winner or the first ever Korean writer. Japan of course has a lot of potential, but I don't think Murakami, who is the obvious choice will get it this year.

    4. "Obscure" writers/ After Vargas Llosa winning it last year, I don't think they're going to go with a worldwide well known and recognized name for a second year in a row. I just don't see it happening. It'd surprise me and many people, but I think that the big names that have been floating around the award for some years will have to wait for some time: Roth, Murakami, De Lillo, Carol Oates, of course Fuentes.
    So who could be "obscure" enough but at the same time important to get in the hands of those old Swedes and capture their antention? Probably an Estonian writer, and then Eric would go nuts.

    Well, after those lines, let's kick off the discussion as we know how to do it in here!
    Last edited by Daniel del Real; 22-Jul-2011 at 19:41.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 Speculation

    Late July? Maybe a little early...

    But it seems we're not the only ones getting the jump-start. Two betting websites have already put up the odds for Nobel prize speculation with Cormac McCarthy leading both lists:

    http://www.victorchandler.com/vcbet/.../230/6140443/1

    http://www.betus.com.pa/sportsbook/a...rize_2011.aspx

    Last year I made a fool of myself by saying something along the lines of: "Vargas Llosa will never win the Nobel because García Márquez has already won it for anyone associated the the Latin American Boom." So, this year I'll refrain from making anything but the most tentative guesses.

    Authors Who I Don't Think Will Win

    Don DeLillo - His vision is perhaps a tad too bleak at times. He also doesn't portray his international figures as positively as might be appreciated by the Academy.

    Haruki Murakami - Not enough weight. Although, perhaps 1Q84 will change that.

    Philip Roth - See: Man Booker International fiasco. See: the fact that Roth is/has been a notorious, curmudgeonly GMN.

    Joyce Carol Oates - I've read nothing by her, but I just cannot take seriously anyone who writes that many novels. For some reason, though, Vollmann still remains, for me, a favorite.

    William H. Gass - Too weird and far too provincial.

    Bob Dylan - [no comment]

    Paul Auster - Too weird and not enough weight.
    "...in the spring there was clouds"

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 Speculation

    Nobel Prize time, woohoo.

    I know he’s probably one of the most popular international writers in the world but Haruki Murakami is an especially interesting choice this year. His 928 page, three-volume novel, 1Q84, comes out in October in English. Murakami, who is most definitely well-off, is likeable, and seems to work hard. Also, more importantly, Japan is still recovering from the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. But perhaps the Swedish Academy finds this irrelvant for a literary prize. (And, the Japanese women’s soccer team just won the world cup.) Nevetheless, I’ll admit I have concerns about the “literary” quality of Murakami’s writing. I still love his writing but I’m not sure if it’s Nobel caliber.

    Also, given the events throughout the Middle East in early 2011, perhaps a Middle Eastern writer is approriate. Someone from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, etc. Adonis comes to mind, and he’s Syrian. Perhaps a Palestinian writer.

    As far as poets go, I agree there are not many “international poets” right now. I consider Geoffrey Hill a pretty serious and skilled poet. His nomination as Oxford Professor Poetry and his recent prolificness (five new books) put him on top of the poetry world, in my opinion.

    William Trevor, the Irish writer, would be a great choice. Such a solid, prolific output.

    As far as playwrights go, I’d suggest Tom Stoppard or Tony Kushner. The former is a prolific and wonderful writer. The latter, who is a longshot, was the victim of a “scandal” of sorts back in May. Again, it’s unlikely that he’ll win, but I figured I throw his name into the pool.

    With all the violence in Mexico, Carlos Fuentes would be an unsurprising choice.

    Does anyone think Harold Bloom, the prolific literary critic, could ever with the prize? Does a “critic” deserve it?

    I don’t think Umberto Eco fits the bill, personally.

    Last but not least: J. K. Rowling. Just kidding, just kidding. Harry Potter sure is fun though!

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 Speculation

    Well, I posted something but it has to go through "moderator's approval" first. Who knows how long that will take, so here's a condensed version of what I wrote:

    People Who I Don't Think Will Win the Nobel This Year

    Don DeLillo - His vision is a bit too bleak at times. He also doesn't portray his "international" characters as positively as the members of the Academy seem to like.

    William H. Gass - Too weird and too provincial.

    Bob Dylan - [no comment]

    Philip Roth - See: Man Booker International fiasco. See: the fact that Roth is/has been a notorious, curmudgeonly GMN.

    Haruki Murakami - Too little weight. Although, perhaps 1Q84 will change that.

    Paul Auster - Too weird and too little weight.
    "...in the spring there was clouds"

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by miobrien View Post
    Last but not least: J. K. Rowling. Just kidding, just kidding. Harry Potter sure is fun though!
    I'd support that just to see the fuming of some of the indignant literati.

    I do think there's a case for the Swedish Academy to recognize the contributions of children's writers (I guess Lagerlof would count, since some of her most famous work falls into that category, but she wrote other stuff too); without them, there probably wouldn't be a readership for any of the later stuff. The late Roald Dahl would have been a deserving candidate, in my opinion.

    Quick mention of my home nation, Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro are perennial contenders to be the first Canadian recipient (c'mon, you gave one to Australia; even Saint Lucia has one, for Christ's sake).

    Salman Rushdie has to be the Nobel equivalent of Charlie Brown doggedly going for that football. Maybe he suffers from being such an obvious choice (the same could be said for Philip Roth).

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 Speculation

    "Nobel Prize in Literature", "Japanese women’s soccer team" and "J. K. Rowling"... wow ... that's why I love forums...

    I also do not believe Murakami will get it this year and I am not sure if he will get it in the future.

    I am all for a North American writer. Probably most people expect one of the many great novelists to make it:
    Atwood
    Roth
    DeLillo
    Oates
    McCarthy
    Pynchon


    But it would be much more interesting if someone completely unexpected would get the big one. Unfortunately Mirabell is not around anymore, he probably would have some suggestions. How about poets like Ashbery or playwrights like Albee or story writers like Munro? I am not sure if one should ridicule the choice of Dylan so much (though I also do not think he will ever get it), Cohen just got a big literature prize and Dylan is nominated for the Neustadt International Prize for Literature (which he will not get, but anyway), so maybe songwriters are taken more seriously lately?

    Sometimes the nobel odds seem to indicate the winner quite precisely the last days before the announcement, at least the last few years it was like this several times. So if we take this seriously and since last year it was a tight race between Ngũgĩ and McCarthy in the end, this might be an indication that both made it into the final short list. Of course, this would not improve their chances for this year anyway. I guess a lot of writers made it into the final round a couple of times and never got the prize, but maybe there is more to it. As I made clear several times on this forum, I really wish McCarthy would make it just for the murderous discussion this would kick off with Waalk and others around here...
    Last edited by Rumpelstilzchen; 23-Jul-2011 at 10:04.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Apfelwurm View Post
    Sometimes the nobel odds seem to indicate the winner quite precisely the last days before the announcement, at least the last few years it was like this several times. So if we take this seriously and since last year it was a tight race between Ngũgĩ and McCarthy in the end, this might be an indication that both made it into the final short list. Of course, this would not improve their chances for this year anyway. I guess a lot of writers made it into the final round a couple of times and never got the prize, but maybe there is more to it. As I made clear several times on this forum, I really wish McCarthy would make it just for the murderous discussion this would kick off with Waalk and others around here...
    I tried to link to the two betting sites which already have the Nobel speculations odds and I think that's why my first post had to go through "moderator's approval". Anyways, here's a link to the Complete Review's Literary Saloon which links to the sites: http://www.complete-review.com/saloo...01107a.htm#wq4. As you can see, Cormac McCarthy leads both, whatever that may mean.
    "...in the spring there was clouds"

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by miobrien View Post
    Nobel Prize time, woohoo.

    I know he’s probably one of the most popular international writers in the world but Haruki Murakami is an especially interesting choice this year. His 928 page, three-volume novel, 1Q84, comes out in October in English. Murakami, who is most definitely well-off, is likeable, and seems to work hard. Also, more importantly, Japan is still recovering from the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. But perhaps the Swedish Academy finds this irrelvant for a literary prize. (And, the Japanese women’s soccer team just won the world cup.) Nevetheless, I’ll admit I have concerns about the “literary” quality of Murakami’s writing. I still love his writing but I’m not sure if it’s Nobel caliber.
    I don't think Murakami will get it this year. I don't have any doubts about his literary quality, but last year a very well known and multi-translated author won the thing, so I think it's really doubtful they are going to give it to another author of this kind this year. Murakami's year will be 2012. Right now his 1Q84 it's not completely available in every importante language around the world. Many of the complete editions will come this fall and it will make it difficult for the Comittee to read that brick before they have to make a decision. For 2012 they can sit and take a look at it. 1Q84 was the missing piece for Murakami's ouvre to be taken more seriously and I have no doubt that he will be a Nobel laureaute. Mark my words.

    Quote Originally Posted by miobrien View Post
    Also, given the events throughout the Middle East in early 2011, perhaps a Middle Eastern writer is approriate. Someone from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, etc. Adonis comes to mind, and he’s Syrian. Perhaps a Palestinian writer.
    I'd be really happy if Adonis gets the nobel prize. Not only he is a poet, a great one, but he also represents an ideal of peace in the Middle East. And yes, this is the year for the Middle East to start presenting a new face to the world and most important, to their own citizens.

    Quote Originally Posted by miobrien View Post
    With all the violence in Mexico, Carlos Fuentes would be an unsurprising choice.
    Don't think so. Back to back for writers in Spanish language is a no-no. Specially if both are novelists and almost from the same right wing and ideals. I mean, it happened twenty years ago with Cela and Paz and if that happens again it must be a poet this year. My choices would be Gelman, Pacheco and Gamoneada. Again, it's not gonna happen, so let's move on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Apfelwurm View Post
    As I made clear several times on this forum, I really wish McCarthy would make it just for the murderous discussion this would kick off with Waalk and others around here...
    Be careful what you wish for! It's not good to call Waalk just like that

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    It's not good to call Waalk just like that
    Who'll probably be pushing for Ursula LeGuin to win, .

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 Speculation

    I don't really mind who wins, because the horse I was betting on, i.e. Jaan Kross, died a couple of years ago.

    Assuming it is a known name this year, not a Ruritanian postmodernist poet that no one has ever heard of, it could well be another American. I rather hope not, because the English language is so over-focused-on as it is.

    Names, not necessarily my favourite authors, but two non-English-writing ones:

    Cees Nooteboom: travel writing and fiction, often mentioned in the same breath as the now late Harry Mulisch. The Netherlands has no Nobel literature prize to date.

    Jaan Kaplinski: probably the leading Baltic poet right now and also writes essays and other things about his background.

    Then there must surely be writers in Europe especially who could qualify. Nothomb is perhaps too young and writes in the same genre. Oksanen would also need a few decades before being in the running. Maybe a Pole, though they've done quite well with Milosz and Szymborska. Or a Latin American writer from Argentina, or Brazil. But again, what with Vargas Llosa, maybe another continent is being examined. Ngugi or Brink from Africa? Chinese? Japanese?

    But whoever it is must be an oeuvre writer, not just someone who has written seven novels.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 Speculation

    Some of my thoughts:

    When the Academy will decide to give the prize to an English language writer again I think they'll choose Canada or Ireland. Alice Munro and William Trevor both have long deserved the Nobel prize. But if and when the prize goes back to America, the Academy will pick a poet or a playwright rather than a prose writer.

    Somebody mentioned Rowling above and quickly dismissed her. Let me tell you that she's a superb writer by any standard and that the Harry Potter universe she created is unparalleled in modern literature. Once the dust settles on Potterdom, Rowling might be a writer worthy of consideration for the Nobel.

    Italy is long overdue and they have three great writers who are have Nobel stature: Magris, Tabucchi and Eco.

    For this year though my guess is that somebody from the Middle East or China will get it. I agree with Daniel about Murakami: he'll eventually get it but he'll have to wait a few more years.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 Speculation

    As an Irishman, I'd love to see William Trevor get it. Banville might also be in the running but at this point Trevor is the more deserving, I think. But actually, I hope for a non-English language winner too.
    Europe has many writers who must have a shot, Tabucchi, Nooteboom, Antonio Lobo Antunes. Or Transtromer. America's turn? Possibly. But hopefully no one too predictable. We have all the same names bandied about in recent years, and China got two writers on the International Booker shortlist, so maybe they are edging towards a breakthrough. Based on the few books I've read, I can't believe Murakami's work is of Nobel quality yet.
    I had ruled out the likes of Rushdie, Kundera, Ismail Kadare and Achebe on the basis that if they were going to win they'd probably have done so by now. But last year's choice has scuppered that notion, so it's all to play for again.
    Still, my choice this year would be Amos Oz. Or what about sharing the prize with another middle eastern writer, maybe a poet? So, Oz and Adonis. They'd be good choices, I think.
    Lastly, a part of me would love to see it go to John le Carre, just to see if he'd have the balls to refuse it...
    In the end, it's all just a guessing game, but a fun one!

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 Speculation

    How curious! The top two bets I had were on the writer being either Oz and Adonis. Adonis most likely. If only due to series of revolutions going on in the middle east, and the Nobel's committee's interest in being both relevant (beyond that no Arab writer has won the award since Mafouz).
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Stiffelio View Post
    Somebody mentioned Rowling above and quickly dismissed her. Let me tell you that she's a superb writer by any standard and that the Harry Potter universe she created is unparalleled in modern literature. Once the dust settles on Potterdom, Rowling might be a writer worthy of consideration for the Nobel.
    You are making fun I guess? To a great extent those books are poorly written, ill conceived and trite. Sure, they are quite good children's books that can also be entertaining for adults. But claiming that they have anything to do with decent literature is madness.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 Speculation

    Watch out, that much pretentiousness can cause the lesser beings around you to spontaneously combust. The one thing the HP books aren't is ill-conceived. Rowling has a meticulously conceived set of rule which the books magical elements work by (my main problem with the films is that they careless run roughshod over her sprawling logic and wide, detailed system of magic). Beyond that the bits of etymological and cultural referencing she does are quite impressively pulled off. She does end up going a bit for the trite in the dualistic battle, but this is common in literature and Rowling's theme here seems to be more the interplay and battle between humanism and bigotry, which is inherently a form of sociopathy.

    Being overly fond of adverbs isn't enough to totally condemn her as an author. I do believe she is of unparalleled importance, especially in what her books have done to bring not just more children into reading, but to jump-start the publishing industry into publishing more children's books. In a similar way to how Tolkien redefined high fantasy and has his spot in history for it, Rowling redefined magical fantasy and children's literature to a large degree. 40 years from now I doubt an author like Don DeLillo will be much discussed outside of 20th Century American Literature classes, but Rowling will still be eagerly looked over by young readers in 40 languages. Critical opinion will become more favorable to her as time goes on. But I don't think she's a serious contender for the Nobel, or a contender at all; she's simply not the type of writer they award.
    "I am not young enough to know everything" -Oscar Wilde
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 Speculation

    However superb or otherwise it would be to give the prize to Harry Potter's mother, I think giving her the prize would send out the wrong signals. This is a children's writer who has written seven bestsellers. But surely the prize should encourage people who have been slogging away over a lifetime and deserve recognition for maybe more subtle qualities. I know little about William Trevor, but looking at the list of his works, he has written a considerable amount. And has won prizes that are not driven by bestseller considerations. And it would also be nice not to have an Irish writer who is automatically associated with the Troubles in the north. Luckily, the short British Council biog of Trevor gives the impression he has had other things to write about.

    Amos Oz suffers from the dilemma that anyone giving him a prize must face. It is chic to boycott Israeli authors, unless they are a bit left-wing. Then they're OK. So Oz could just about win the Nobel without causing riots throughout the less democratic parts of the world beyond the Zionist Entity. Kaplinski is, of course, partly Jewish, but there's also a problem: the Balts are regarded as having collaborated with the German Nazis to murder Jews (not the nasty Jews in the Zionist Entity, but the nice ones who were murdered in the Holocaust). So maybe Judaism ought to be avoided altogether, which also means dumping Philip Roth.

    So, who have we got left...

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 Speculation

    Roth probably won't get it because he seems to want it so much and he's about as insular as the big American writers get.

    Amos Oz is perhaps one of the most intelligent commentators on the Israeli situation around today, and his viewpoint is remarkably balanced; I'd see no problem giving the award to him, but can't speak on the matter as I haven't read any of his work.
    "I am not young enough to know everything" -Oscar Wilde
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by anchomal View Post
    As an Irishman, I'd love to see William Trevor get it. Banville might also be in the running but at this point Trevor is the more deserving, I think. But actually, I hope for a non-English language winner too.
    Dear GOD! Not Banville! If that arrogant prick ever got the Nobel his ego would transform into a "giant Adenoid" blob fit to consume all of Dublin!

    But seriously. Banville's fun and talented, but I've yet to be really impressed by anything he's written. Trevor sounds nice enough, although my money would settle with Paul Muldoon who's hilariously genius from what I've read of him.

    Otherwise, I do hold out hopes for Kundera and Kadare. And Amos Oz, of whom I've read one novel - Rhyming Love and Death - seems like a solid candidate, if not quite as solid as Adonis, whose poetry I really adore. Speaking of which, I really need to get a hold of Yale University's new Selected Poems which appears to be a much better and fuller introduction to Adonis than I've gotten in the past.
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    United States Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 Speculation

    I'm reading the selected poems of Donald Hall right now (a superb American poet who's been around for ages) and I'm shocked that his name has never even come up in discussion (at least not to my knowledge.) If anything, he has a bigger and more deserving chance to win the Prize than the likes of DeLillo, McCarthy and Pynchon, if we limit ourselves to Americans only.

    J.K. Rowling is a delightful nuisance. I do understand the whole "But she gets millions of children to READ" sentiment, and that's a pretty thought, but if those children ever progress to reading anything else is questionable. I have never heard anyone say, I've never read anything before, then I got hooked on Rowling, now I'm reading Proust!

    Once again, threads like these are interesting because they highlight people's individual choices more than any actual reality as to who's going to win the Nobel this year.

    I dearly wanted Janet Frame to get it while she was alive. At present Mary Oliver and Pentti Holappa are my top two choices (reflecting personal tastes but also sane reality, as they are topnotch poets, both of them).

    It would be nice for the Balts to have a winner, not least of all because there are so many great and deserving writers currently at work in Estonia and Lithuania (Latvia is a bit behind, as Eric often likes to point out).

    But in the end, I guess it would be too much to ask for if we timidly request the Prize not be in any way political, would it?

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 Speculation

    As I mentioned, I don't really have any strong preferences for this year's Nobel.

    How did you arrive at Holappa, Liam? I'm not saying you're wrong, because I've probably only read three poems by him in my life, although I do have a book of prose poems called "Norsun ääni" (The Elephant's Voice; 2003).

    Latvia has to get it together. But right now they want to dump the government, so maybe it's not a good time for poetry or prose. If I knew enough Latvian, I'd translate things. But I have to read everything in Swedish, German, or Estonian translation, and sometimes that becomes too much effort. On their best literary website 1/4 Satori they are open to foreign literature (e.g. Tomass Transtremers, Herta Millera, Naomi Kleina) but unfortunately don't publish anything in any foreign language about their own literature.

    Uldis Berzins, friend of the Baltophiles in Holland during the 1990s when he lived there for a year, has just translated the Koran into Latvian. But I don't think that a translation (albeit directly from the Arabic) of that popular book will win him the Nobel. Though he is a poet in his own right.

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