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Thread: The Next Generation: Future Nobel Prizewinners?

  1. #41
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    Default Re: The Next Generation: Future Nobel Prizewinners?

    I'm not sure if Franzen would ever be a real contender, but I'd love it if he won. The Corrections wasn't mind-blowing, but it was great, especially compared to some other contemporary American lit. Also, he was so big for a number of years that now the pendulum is starting to go the other way and everyone hates him. If he won, the resulting backlash would be legendary. I'd love it.

    Also, I've seen a bunch of superficial comparisons between Modiano and Sebald, Alexievich and Kapuscinski. Since those two deceased writers were listed, along with Derrida as writers worthy of the prize, it makes me wonder if we might have a philosophical winner coming up soon (probably not, but still). If they went for a philosopher, who is even an option? Kripke? Zizek? Agamben? Habermas is probably too old. I doubt they'd go for any of those, but it would be cool to see a philosophy winner.

  2. #42
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    Default Re: The Next Generation: Future Nobel Prizewinners?

    Quote Originally Posted by redheadshadz View Post
    especially compared to some other contemporary American lit
    I wonder what other contemporary American lit you must be reading?

    Never say never of course, but the only prize Franzen will be winning is the popularity prize (aka My-Mugshot-Is-on-the-Cover-of-the-Time-Magazine Award).

    Also, I despair for anyone who thinks Zadie Smith and Jeanette Winterson are synonymous with serious literature.

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    Default Re: The Next Generation: Future Nobel Prizewinners?

    By contemporary, I mean more or less books to have come out after the turn of the century, so I'm not including a lot of great still living writers that have produced very little of substance or merit since 2000. Honestly, a lot of it bores me so I haven't dove in super deep, but after Chabon, Vollmann, Robinson, and probably one or two others I'm forgetting, Franzen is probably the best I've read, and, after Vollmann and Robinson (and discounting the Bloom 4, who, other than Pynchon's Against the Day which I haven't yet read and maybe The Road depending on my mood, haven't done much in the last 15 years), I'd rank him as one of the few Americans who is potentially Nobel material (another novel or two will decide that for me).

    As for the other American lit I've been reading... let's just say I have strong views about The Goldfinch and it winning what is supposedly America's top literary prize--and people getting all happy that it won has colored my views.
    Last edited by redheadshadz; 16-Dec-2015 at 17:16.

  4. #44
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    Default Re: The Next Generation: Future Nobel Prizewinners?

    Agreed re: The Goldfinch. And yeah, you're right, quite a lot of contemporary writing is schlock. But there are hidden gems here and there. Certainly Robinson. She needs to write more fiction!

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    Default Re: The Next Generation: Future Nobel Prizewinners?

    Yes, Robinson certainly is great. If she wrote more fiction, she'd definitely be a major contender. As it is, even with 4 very acclaimed novels and 4ish nonfiction books that admittedly have passed kind of unnoticed, I don't think her oeurve is big enough. Eugenides has the same problem.

    And A Little Life is considered the frontrunner for this year's Pulitzer...Admittedly I haven't gotten around to it, but everything I've read suggests it's a few rungs below The Goldfinch. Meanwhile this year's Vollmann will probably passed unnoticed by any awards.

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    Default Re: The Next Generation: Future Nobel Prizewinners?

    The Pulitzer is a meaningless prize in my opinion. Certainly some great writers have won it--because they are great writers, not because they've won the Pulitzer. But most of the winners have been forgettable, especially in recent years, and after the Junot Diaz fiasco, who's a racist, pontificating piece of shit whose ego is now bigger than his hemorrhoids, I've lost all interest in this particular prize for good.

  7. #47
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    Default Re: The Next Generation: Future Nobel Prizewinners?

    I have a feeling you'll like this, then:

    https://www.nytimes.com/books/98/11/...ss-prizes.html

    I think he goes a bit too far (there have been some good winners, Grapes of Wrath, ...Mockingbird, Humboldt's Gift, but then all of them also resonated with the public, like he suggests), but I can't disagree overall. For a good recent winner, check out The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson.

  8. #48

    Default Re: The Next Generation: Future Nobel Prizewinners?

    "The monies involved are now enough to pay for an air conditioner and a case of Scotch - neither of which is a windfall to be scorned, still not the muse's airlift either. But the Pulitzer has perceived an important truth about our complex culture. Serious literature is not important to it; however, the myth that it matters must be maintained. Ceremony is essential, although Mammon is the god that's served."

    "Because we have a large, affluent, mildly educated middle class which has fundamentally the same tastes as the popular culture it grew up with, yet with pretensions to something more, something higher, something better suited to its half-opened eyes and spongy mind, there is a large industry of artists, academics, critics and publicists eager to serve it - lean cuisine if that's the thing - and the Pulitzer is ready with its rewards."

    A wonderful few lines from Gass. Thank you for sharing the article, shadz. I think I used to have a good deal of respect for the Pulitzer but have, over the past few years, fallen out of keeping with it. It doesn't hold itself up to a particularly high standard and, though I was excited to read The Goldfinch, it has certainly been my most disappointing read of the year, and it will likely go unchallenged in that regard. It is a meaningless book, pulp fiction in the gaze of literature, poorly written, poorly edited, poorly imagined. An unfortunate collection of pages.

    I can't say the same of other books which have won the prize as I haven't read many of them. The Road by Cormac McCarthy is good, though my recollections of its quality are largely dependent on my mood of the day. I read it so long ago, and it no longer brings me warm feelings but more a puzzling attitude. "Is it really as good as I thought it was?" I suspect not.

    I am sure that it has made many successful selections though. The Stone Diaries, perhaps. Or Beloved, which looks remarkably good. Or Gilead, or House Made of Dawn or Angle of Repose, or or or. And a book or two by Steinbeck and Faulkner and Hemingway and Bellow, all books that are, I suspect, worthy of the attention they receive even if, as Gass points out, they are not necessarily their best books. I think, as happens with many of these awards, the books which are selected are not in and of themselves "bad" so much as far from the best published in that year. Very rarely does the prize lead one to find author's of a worldly talent, but it does perhaps occasionally award a good book to provide a break from some of the heavier, denser novels that many of us can get caught up in. Just don't trust in it as much as most people do - don't lean on it to help you find the book that you will use to show the world your literary brilliance on a bus - and you'll be just fine I suspect. The books are often good, but not often remarkable. Gass points out that the Pulitzer isn't intended to reward the remarkable and I'm inclined to believe him.

    Which makes me wonder if there are any major prizes in the U.S. which do. I find the National Book Award to reward more compelling literature, though sometimes their selections are a bit curious. And, ever since awarding 2666 by Bolano their top prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award has garnered my attention a good deal as well - and it's focus tends to be a bit more international, it seems, though it, too, also awards major selling fiction rather than what is necessarily the best or most remarkable. How much, I guess, can we expect of an award who vision is limited to a paltry collection of 52 weeks, or 12 months, and isn't given the opportunity to really explore the historical value or scope of a work?

    As for Americans who are deserving of the Nobel Prize, I can think of very few that I know of who are playing around with the form of the novel enough to warrant receiving it, aside from William T. Vollmann, whose "The Rifles" often stole my breath away from me earlier this year, or Thoman Pynchon, whose impact on the literary scene is undisputed in North America, at the very least. Cormac McCarthy is certainly a good option as well, though I have yet to read any of his masterpieces and so am not yet convinced, and I haven't touched a single Philip Roth. I do think that Louise Erdrich is the pre-eminent female author in the country and is worthy of consideration. She's a damn good writer, working in very complex ideas, and using and developing some advanced techniques. I think she is fantastic, though I do not know if she has the sizeable reputation either in North America or abroad to garner that much attention.

  9. #49
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    Default Re: The Next Generation: Future Nobel Prizewinners?

    Thank you for the wonderful Gass link, Shadz. I've never come across that particular piece, I'm ashamed to say. I enjoyed reading it and agree with virtually every word.

    Quote Originally Posted by OverTheMountains View Post
    pulp fiction in the gaze of literature
    guise? Though I do like the slip, .
    Quote Originally Posted by OverTheMountains View Post
    As for Americans who are deserving of the Nobel Prize, I can think of very few that I know of who are playing around with the form of the novel enough to warrant receiving it
    Hmm, somehow I don't think that "playing around with the form of the novel" is (or ought to be) one of the criteria for winning the Nobel. Telling timeless truths about the human condition, yes, but that can be done using conventional forms. Experimentation is all fine and dandy, but it doesn't necessarily result in great literature. Although sometimes, very rarely, certain writers manage to combine both (Faulkner, Woolf, Joyce, Beckett and, more recently, Krasznahorkai).

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    Default Re: The Next Generation: Future Nobel Prizewinners?

    Are you really putting that crazy Hungarian at the same level than Faulkner, Woolf, Joyce and Beckett?

  11. #51
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    Default Re: The Next Generation: Future Nobel Prizewinners?

    Quote Originally Posted by OverTheMountains View Post
    Which makes me wonder if there are any major prizes in the U.S. which do. I find the National Book Award to reward more compelling literature, though sometimes their selections are a bit curious. And, ever since awarding 2666 by Bolano their top prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award has garnered my attention a good deal as well - and it's focus tends to be a bit more international, it seems, though it, too, also awards major selling fiction rather than what is necessarily the best or most remarkable. How much, I guess, can we expect of an award who vision is limited to a paltry collection of 52 weeks, or 12 months, and isn't given the opportunity to really explore the historical value or scope of a work?

    As for Americans who are deserving of the Nobel Prize, I can think of very few that I know of who are playing around with the form of the novel enough to warrant receiving it, aside from William T. Vollmann, whose "The Rifles" often stole my breath away from me earlier this year, or Thoman Pynchon, whose impact on the literary scene is undisputed in North America, at the very least. Cormac McCarthy is certainly a good option as well, though I have yet to read any of his masterpieces and so am not yet convinced, and I haven't touched a single Philip Roth. I do think that Louise Erdrich is the pre-eminent female author in the country and is worthy of consideration. She's a damn good writer, working in very complex ideas, and using and developing some advanced techniques. I think she is fantastic, though I do not know if she has the sizeable reputation either in North America or abroad to garner that much attention.
    Agree completely. I like the NBA because at least it usually tries to go for the obscure books deserving of more attention, occasionally bringing the spotlight on some unknown masterpiece, but for every step in the right direction, I think it takes a step back. The NBCC is good but too determined by literary reputation, especially when it comes to overseas books. Case in point: 2666 while The Savage Detectives was completely ignored. I think the Pulitzer board knows what it's doing and what kind of books it wants to reward. It's by no means the worst award out there, but it's reputation is more on being the oldest American prize and on the occasional bestselling masterpiece that wins it. For the most part, it's not for me, though.

    And I agree completely on your Nobel list. Add Robinson and I think that's all of the Americans writing at a worthy level today.

  12. #52
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    Default Re: The Next Generation: Future Nobel Prizewinners?

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    Are you really putting that crazy Hungarian at the same level than Faulkner, Woolf, Joyce and Beckett?
    I think I was drawing an analogy, the way that MadTV once defined it (tongue-in-cheek, of course): "A correspondence in some respects between things that are otherwise dissimilar," .

    Certainly, in our day and age, I think that LK is playing with the form of the novel the way that Faulkner, Woolf, Joyce and Beckett once played with it. LK is also Beckett's literary heir; if you read their prose side-by-side the similarities will become jarringly clear. I am thinking mostly of Beckett's Trilogy and LK's Satantango and Melancholy of Resistance read together as one connected body of work (albeit by different authors). Several serious readers whose opinions I respect, including Sharon over at the Woods, have already remarked on this.

    Are you reading him in Spanish translation? Perhaps it was done poorly, ruining the experience for you? I have no idea how LK reads in the original Hungarian, but the English versions by George Szirtes are superb: they are masterpieces in their own right. One of those rare cases where the writer and the translator have "found" each other.

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    Default Re: The Next Generation: Future Nobel Prizewinners?

    If I remember correctly, at the woods someone posted LK's passages in English, German, and Hungarian to see which was closer. Some native speakers looked over it and the consensus was the the German was closer on a literal level but the English, despite slight embellishments, was much closer in terms of feel and overall style.

  14. #54

    Default Re: The Next Generation: Future Nobel Prizewinners?

    Quote Originally Posted by redheadshadz View Post
    Agree completely. I like the NBA because at least it usually tries to go for the obscure books deserving of more attention, occasionally bringing the spotlight on some unknown masterpiece, but for every step in the right direction, I think it takes a step back. The NBCC is good but too determined by literary reputation, especially when it comes to overseas books. Case in point: 2666 while The Savage Detectives was completely ignored. I think the Pulitzer board knows what it's doing and what kind of books it wants to reward. It's by no means the worst award out there, but it's reputation is more on being the oldest American prize and on the occasional bestselling masterpiece that wins it. For the most part, it's not for me, though.

    And I agree completely on your Nobel list. Add Robinson and I think that's all of the Americans writing at a worthy level today.
    A lot of great American literature being published these days. I rely on KCRW's Bookworm to help me sort through the great novels from the mediocre. I really loved Atticus Lish's Preparation for the next life. And I agree that the NBA is much better. I also tend to think that the National Book Critics Circle Award rewards great literature.
    Last edited by hoodoo; 08-Sep-2016 at 21:02.

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    Default Re: The Next Generation: Future Nobel Prizewinners?

    A few authors here really have no chance of ever winning. Juno Diaz for instance, is never going to happen. Dude is 48 years old and has only written one novel and 2 short story collections. So he's released three books total. He may be a well received American author, but his minuscule bibliography and nearly nonexistent international acclaim do not make him look like even a remote candidate. He's essentially an author known for one novel and one novel only. He doesn't have an acclaimed oeuvre of work and even then his most well-known novel is only 9 years old.

    Pynchon is never going to win. He's a complete recluse. It's why he hasn't received any literary awards (aside from a National Book award 40 years ago) or honorary degrees because of it. Nobody is going to award an unresponsive recluse who doesn't make public appearances and refuses to be photographed. For this reason Elen Ferrante is also never going to win.

    Franzen will never win. He's a pioneer of the current trend of American "lit light." Authors who write literary works but dumb them down to sell more. I'd say he's the American equivalent of someone like Ian McEwan. Neither will ever win. He's also just a huge douche and he once seriously stated that he wanted to adopt Iraqi war orphans to use as inspiration for his writing.

    Generally these days a winner is almost certainly going to be between 50 and 88 years old.

    They will not be retired and will still be actively writing and publishing. So say maybe 5 years removed from their most recent release when they win. There are scant exceptions to the "actively publishing" thing and those are poets whose gaps can be explained (Transtromer because he had a massively disabling stroke that left him crippled) and Giorgos Seferis (who was a diplomat during the years between his last publication and his win). Munro was retired when she won but she also won immediately following her announced retirement. So basically, after being on the shortlist at some point previously, they awarded her as soon as they could after she said she was retiring. For reasons like this Philip Roth (who has been retired for 6 years) and Cormac McCarthy (who hasn't published in 10 years) are unlikely to ever win (these are some of the most frequently mentioned "candidates" in American press).

    Generally a laureate this days will have been publishing for at least 25 years. They don't need to be prolific, but authors with only 2 or 3 published works aren't going to win. I'd say at least 6 publications is nearly a necessity.

    They'll usually have received both international and domestic literary awards.

    They have to have been on the Swedish Academy's shortlist in previous years. So someone who's just released an acclaimed novel that very year is unlikely to win unless they'd previously been in consideration. The Academy has explicitly states this. So though Muller's The Hunger Angel was big in 2009, she would have been considered prior to that. Something like The Hunger Angel probably just helped to cement her win or push her over the edge.

    Generally they need to be lifelong literary figures. Authors trying to actively write for much of their life. Authors who release their first books when they're 40 years old are unlikely to win. So are authors who despite their advanced age have released relatively little, and all of it quite recently (William Gass, Annie Proulx types).

    I realize this doesn't really address "too young to win it yet" types but these are some general guidelines that can be used to weed out possible contenders. I have a list of possible contenders for future prizes but none of them are "too young." They're just the types of authors that could win now. Should I post that?

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    Default Re: The Next Generation: Future Nobel Prizewinners?

    Quote Originally Posted by Isahoinp View Post
    I have a list of possible contenders for future prizes but none of them are "too young." They're just the types of authors that could win now. Should I post that?
    You've only mentioned writers who will not win. So, if your list has more than only usual suspects, why not?

  17. #57

    Default Re: The Next Generation: Future Nobel Prizewinners?

    Also, Cormac has a new novel coming out (next year?), but he certainly will not win after Dylan. And, if I'm not mistaken, Müller's Atemschaukel came out after the award (or a couple of a weeks prior), and that's why it got so much attention. I know she won a panoply of prizes before the Nobel, but even in Germany, she was pretty unknown.

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    Default Re: The Next Generation: Future Nobel Prizewinners?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ater, Lividus, Ruber, & V View Post
    Müller's Atemschaukel came out after the award (or a couple of a weeks prior), and that's why it got so much attention. I know she won a panoply of prizes before the Nobel, but even in Germany, she was pretty unknown.
    It came out in August of that year. So the Swedish Academy certainly would have read it when reading through their shortlist over the summer before meeting in September to select a winner. She had a decent amount of renown in Germany. Hertzier won lots of awards and received media coverage It won domestic awards and even a literary award given by the European Union. Most Nobel winners regardless of their country of origin aren't exactly going to be "well-known" (cases like Bob Dylan are a rarity, though plenty of "famous: authors have won before) because the general public usually isn't reading a lot of serious literary work. Like if William Vollmann won at some point I'm sure most basic American readers and many in the press wouldn't have a clue who he is.

    McCarthy's next novel has "supposedly been coming out" since 2015. Back in 2015 he had a bunch of press and media events for it. Over a year later now, nothing has changed. It could come out in 2017, but I also could just see it never coming out. My issue with his candidacy ignoring Dylan even is that it'll have been 11 years between his publications (aside from a script for a poorly received film a few years ago). He just really seems unlikely to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by peter_d View Post
    You've only mentioned writers who will not win. So, if your list has more than only usual suspects, why not?
    Most of them are the usual suspects. Authors who have been mentioned frequently as possible contenders.

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    Default Re: The Next Generation: Future Nobel Prizewinners?

    Quote Originally Posted by Isahoinp View Post
    Most of them are the usual suspects. Authors who have been mentioned frequently as possible contenders.
    Don't be discouraged by my comment. If you have some names to share who you think may be the next generation Nobel Prize winners, don't hesitate.

  20. #60

    Default Re: The Next Generation: Future Nobel Prizewinners?

    Quote Originally Posted by Isahoinp View Post
    Generally these days a winner is almost certainly going to be between 50 and 88 years old.
    I'd limit that to candidates between 55-75 years old, even. Over the last 25 years, that's where almost all the winners have been. Looking at the last 50 years, the academy has been awarding people in the 50-55 and 75-80 ranges reasonably frequently as well, but not in the more recent years. So this can be used as a first sieve to gauge who would be most likely (or conversely, when someone would be most likely).

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