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Thread: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 Speculation

  1. #21
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    Vila-Matas... a very clever post-modernist writer whose works are always flooded with literary references. He is always playing games with identities and his essay-like narrative always manages to capture me as a reader.
    Has he ever been accused of being a J. L. Borges wannabe? I'm just curious, because what you've just said applies equally well to Borges as well.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Liam View Post
    Has he ever been accused of being a J. L. Borges wannabe? I'm just curious, because what you've just said applies equally well to Borges as well.
    Yes, they have similarities and have been compared once or twice, but at the same time they couldn't be different. Although the prose of both can be classified as essayistic in Borges the imagery of his poetry always came to surface, something that Vila-Matas doesn't have as he is a pure narrator. Also, the identity situations that Vila-Matas describes are mundane, human and daily, far way of the metaphysics and theology that accompanies Borges. And finally, despite having a tremendous admiration for several world literatures, there always was this profound feeling of being Argentinian, the description of the gaucho, la pampa, old traditions and modern life in Buenos Aires; Vila-Matas doesn't have that need to reaffirm his identity with his native country and he is more like a citizen, not of the world, but from the books that his different identities adopt.

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 Speculation

    I see, but yeah, it always happens: similarities are always drawn with the MORE famous writer writing in the same language and/or style, or whatever. I guess it's all about the luck of being born first.

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 Speculation

    Yeah, I guess it happens with you and... ehmmm... Eltoh John maybe?

  5. #25
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 Speculation

    Thanks, I guess. He looks like a hobbit, his musical talent aside, .

  6. #26
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 Speculation

    Oh dear, we're back at that part of the year, are we?

    Gabriel makes an interesting point about numbers, but you have to consider carefully what you regard as a "work". What surely counts is a substantial number of novels, short-story collections, poetry collections, essay collections, and plays, not all the little articles and reviews they've written for the newspapers or, nowadays, online, or blog articles. So when you compare Doris Lessing with Krasznahorkai, different things are perhaps being counted.

    Just to counter Liam's point about the Swedish Academy and me, I did once meet the chairman of that Nobel committee that does all the hard work of sifting the books, and he was a thoroughly nice and unpretentious chap. We politely avoided the subject of the Nobel. It is, in any case, much more fun to speculate, although the bookmakers do get a bit vulgar about the activity of giving a prize to a genius, not betting on galloping horses.

    I'm more at a loss than ever this year, as all I could come up with is that tired old list that has been bandied around for years, one of whose members is sometimes removed when he or she wins.

    Another rather indecent side to speculation on the Nobel is the way that as soon as the winner is either leaked or announced formally, publishers go into overdrive to get slave translators to get the books translated as quickly as possible so that their multinational press can make even more money. When, in the 1990s, Jaan Kross was in the running for a while, I felt very ambiguous about what would happen should he win, as I would have had to work flat out on something, probably for relatively little pay. But it would, of course, have been a boost to my career. And I have, nevertheless, to thank the Nobel speculation in the early 1990s for the fact I got my first Kross translation, because his name was being bandied about then. Since then, and without the Nobel as a back-up I have translated a total of three books by Kross.

    But ultimately, the Nobel is a one-horse race, because no one remembers the runners-up as the haggling and discussion is kept discreetly from the general public. The only names mentioned are generated by people speculating as we are doing here.

    Though as I say, I haven't a clue myself, not least because I've not given the Nobel a thought for months.

  7. #27
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Gabriel makes an interesting point about numbers, but you have to consider carefully what you regard as a "work". What surely counts is a substantial number of novels, short-story collections, poetry collections, essay collections, and plays, not all the little articles and reviews they've written for the newspapers or, nowadays, online, or blog articles. So when you compare Doris Lessing with Krasznahorkai, different things are perhaps being counted.
    Completely valid observation. For instance, in the numbers I posted previously, a preface of another author's book, an article or even a single short story from a collection featuring other authors, is counted up as a "work" by the author.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Another rather indecent side to speculation on the Nobel is the way that as soon as the winner is either leaked or announced formally, publishers go into overdrive to get slave translators to get the books translated as quickly as possible so that their multinational press can make even more money.
    I never thought of this! I remember that by the time she won the Nobel, Herta Müller had only 2 books traslated into spanish (The Passport and Nadirs, or in spanish El hombre es un gran faisán en el mundo y En tierras bajas), and in 1 + 1/2 year the number rose quickly up to 10. Pamuk, on the other hand, apparently, got translated a lot earlier because of John Updike's praise of his works, and perhaps some political notoriety. So perhaps it's not so much the Nobel causing the translations, but just the taste of American publishing houses and their influence throughout the world.

    That said, I still hope an unknown author, hardly translated, but worthy gets the prize this year! The only thing is, with so much internet discussions nowadays, and such interest in global literature (at least from my perspective), is it really possible for a Nobel worthy author to go entirely under the radar? Maybe we, as readers, now have a better chance of knowing about obscure authors? (I'm almost certain we already know about the winning author) Perhaps the days of the Nobel Prize as a discoverer of "unknown masters", are counted?

    NOTE: I'm just referring to knowing about, i.e. having heard of. A deeper understanding of any Nobel worthy author might plausibly be limited to certain small groups.
    Last edited by Gabriel; 06-Aug-2012 at 17:04.

  8. #28
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Gabriel View Post
    That said, I still hope an unknown author, hardly translated, but worthy gets the prize this year! The only thing is, with so much internet discussions nowadays, and such interest in global literature (at least from my perspective), is it really possible for a Nobel worthy author to go entirely under the radar? Maybe we, as readers, now have a better chance of getting acquainted with obscure authors? Perhaps the days of the Nobel Prize as a discoverer of "unknown masters", are counted?
    Interesting, but hard to say. Patrick White, Australia's only Nobel Laureate is, now, almost totally unavailable outside Australia, and inside Australia only became available again after a number of articles moaning how he was out of print for years and years (and he was).

    Similarly, after Le Clezio and after Muller won, I raced around the bookstores in Brisbane (Australia's third biggest city, almost 2 million people) and found - nothing. Nothing. Sure, both are available now, but neither were available then.

    So, at least from the insular Australian perspective, sure, each author will probably be a very new discovery. And that's...............something.

    Basically, for Australia, a book must first arrive in either America or the United Kingdoms (difficult to begin with), and then be sufficiently popular that it makes its way here. So, very difficult for any author, and even more difficult for a translated work. It's a shame.

    Of course, the internet makes these problems much less severe, but even still.
    My Website - book reviews and literary essays.

  9. #29
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 Speculation

    I always wonder how these Nobel leaks get into the public domain. I used to think that all 18 of the noble Nobel committee would never divulge the name of the future winner or what I term the "runners-up", i.e. the list of candidates prior to the ultimate announcement. But in the early 1990s, this must definitely have happened with Jaan Kross, as suddenly one particular British publisher was suddenly very eager to publish things by this then obscure Estonian writer (obscure, that is, to the Western world at the time). But I suppose it's difficult to keep a team of 18 disciplined. And experts are consulted from all over the world. So in the case of Kross, as there were very few people that could be rated as "experts", these people too could have blabbed. (Don't suspect me. I knew relatively little about Kross or his chances of winning at the time, though by then he'd given me a couple of his novels.)

    Doris Lessing is in my good books, as I said on another thread as she reviewed my translation of Kross "Treading Air" back in 2003.

    Maybe Australian bookshops are not a yardstick by which the quality or world impact of a Nobel winner should be judged. Although they tend to know their Estonians, as a lot of Estonians settled there after WWII, and they have had children and grandchildren.

    A lot of English-language internet chatter, especially about authors that don't write in English, is people copying half-truths off one another, with no actual access to source-language, or source-culture texts or books.

    Finally for now, you've got to be careful with the terms "obscure" or "unknown". This usually means that people who read nothing but English haven't heard of the author, should the author not be translated into English. Tens of millions of people can have heard of Spanish-language or Portuguese-language authors without the Brits, Yanks, and Aussies realising they exist. As Herta Müller writes in German, not Romanian, she will have been well-known in the German-speaking countries long before the Nobel. And the sad thing with Pamuk is that he has become the Token Turk, and hardly any other Turkish author gets translated into English, unless they are writing about the persecution of the Kurds or Armenians. Then they are not being translated for literary value, but for political reasons.

  10. #30
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Damian Kelleher View Post
    Patrick White, Australia's only Nobel Laureate is, now, almost totally unavailable outside Australia
    Well, that's not really true, except perhaps his short story collections and some really early fiction. Riders in the Chariot has been available for years in a beautiful NYRB paperback (which I own). Voss and The Vivisector have both been published by Penguin, also in affordable paperback editions. The Eye of the Storm, perhaps his masterpiece, is available with a stupid movie-poster cover on it (I've always found those extremely tasteless, with very few exceptions). So yeah, Paddy White is not forgotten at all, and thank god for that!

  11. #31
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 Speculation

    Well, here are some facts that make me think this years winner will be an author who writes in English:


    - In the last 25 years, a writer in English language has been selected 9 times, represented more than any other language
    - This gives an average of a English language writer awarded every 2.7 years (let's leave it at 3)
    - If this year a non English writer is selected will be the 5th without one.
    - Longest streak without was 5, between Heaney (1996) and Naipaul (2001)
    - However, this English language drought was preceded by a period 5 years (1991-1996) with 4 of 5 winners coming from the English language speaking world (Gordimer, Walcott, Morrison, Heaney) therefore the need to have a space between winners.
    - Now going to countries, don't think UK will be selected as the previous two English language winner comes from there (Lessing & Pinter).
    - Still see an anti United States feeling in the Swedish Academy, commanded by the powerful figure of Engdahl.
    - Don't see a big name coming from Ireland. So I think winner will come from Canada, Africa or Australia.

  12. #32
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 Speculation

    Perhaps you should get your crystal ball out, Dan, and just give us the name of the winner already!

  13. #33
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 Speculation

    Well, it's still under proof so it can work when I need it most, the Ladbrokes bet

  14. #34
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 Speculation

    What an early start to the Nobel thread! Still two months to go and I can't believe the level of nonsense already being spelled out on this thread. The usual, cheap thrashing of American authors such as Roth, McCarthy (and even Franzen, who's too young to be considered in contention for at least another couple of decades!). That's OK if you guys hate these writers. But when we get as far as proposing insignificant names such as Couto or have the audacity of comparing Vila-Matas to Borges, then I know this forum is in deep trouble. It's OK to speculate about the Nobel; I get drawn into it as well. But I would recommend people to think twice before spluttering incoherently.

  15. #35
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 Speculation

    We've had Nobel Speculation threads before that were begun as early as June, so this one is relatively late.

    I wouldn't call the above remarks "the usual, cheap thrashing of Americans authors," so much as the usual, cheap thrashing of certain American authors, such as Jonathan Franzen. There are other American writers in existence besides Jonathan Franzen.

    I don't hate him per se, I just don't believe he should be as significant as he is at present.

    But I would recommend people to think twice before spluttering incoherently.
    Says the Franzen defender, .

  16. #36
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 Speculation

    I knew you'd jump in on me, Limmy . I think we've discussed Franzen before and you are in your right to not like him, though I'm afraid you haven't even read him and you just hate his 'mediatic' persona. But you brought him up in this thread. Nobody is even venturing the possibility of him winning the Nobel (at least not yet,..... he's written what, three four books?). So why the need to mention that you'd hate seeing him win; it's gratuitous.

  17. #37
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 Speculation

    Wrong on both counts, my dear, dear friend with the stiff (pun intended) upper lip.

    I wasn't the one who mentioned Franzen, Damian was, and I just responded.

    And I did read one whole book by F, namely Freedom. Which, surprisingly, I was glued to, despite this deep-seated feeling I had that the symbolism was being spread thin, too thin, upon the seemingly "vast" but in reality quite microscopic canvas of this hugely overrated novel.

    What I liked about F's writing style was the characterization. What I absolutely hated was the insipid plotting. Reading Franzen, one would think that the likes of Virginia Woolf never lived, and never wrote.

  18. #38
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 Speculation

    My problem is not with Franzen. Too young, haven't read him, not planning to do it and his persona is right now inconsequential to me. My problem is Roth, and probably not directly with him, but all the almighty critics from his country and from other latitudes that are always outraged and incensed, complaining on how Swedish Academy dares not to award this glory of literature of all the centuries. Sorry, but I have read Roth and find him not bad, but mediocre, with a very dull prose and tackling problems that nobody cares unless you are Jewish and from The States. Is that really the best thing the US can bring to the world? Don't think so.

  19. #39
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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 Speculation

    Since it's a free-for-all, sling James Kelman's name into the mix. Why not?

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2012 Speculation

    I strongly believe L. Krasznahorkai is a more than worthy contender.

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