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Thread: Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 Speculation

  1. #1
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    Default Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 Speculation

    This year there will not be an "official kickoff" for real speculation as I don't know why Ladbrokes kept open bets on the Nobel all year!
    Right now there is a list of 27 names, which indicates nothing and for sure will grow when the right time approaches (probably late August).

    Now for this year's prize let's take in consideration since Englund arrived as permanent secretary, it seems the Academy is paying their debts off:

    2010, Spanish language
    2011, A Poet and a Swedish
    2012, A Far Asian writter
    2013, Short story

    And of course, the biggest debt for this year would be with the US, but I don't see it coming; no back to back English language winners.

    So with this said, let this ride begin!

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 Speculation

    Let's see, so what are the current outstanding "debts" for the Academy?

    The first thing that pops into my head is theater/drama. Although a few recent laureates have written plays (Lessing and Llosa, IIRC), it wasn't what they were "known for". The last actual playwright to win was Harold Pinter in 2005. Even before Pinter, none of the winners were primarily playwrights (Jelinek? Not that familiar with her reputation) going back to Dario Fo in 1997. I could see a non-English language playwright winning it, if there were a particularly prominent one. Off the top of my head, though, I don't really know who would qualify? I admit I don't read as much drama as I do novels or poetry.

    What about Muslim writers? Mahfouz is the only one that has won it, and that was a long time ago. Could Adunis win? He is probably the most revered Muslim poet and has been in the conversation for decades. I just fear he might be too old.

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    Angola Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 Speculation

    [QUOTE=RASimmons; What about Muslim writers? [/QUOTE]

    Maybe it will be Assia Djebar's year.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 Speculation

    Ah, the Nobel! I really enjoy the event.

    As Daniel said, Englund, it seems, is paying some debts. The last secretary seems to prefer "witnesses" - Le Clézio, Lessing, Kertesz...

    Now, should I say Englund is not afraid to give the prize to sucessful authors? Llosa and Munro were very famous before the prize. Murakami... maybe...?

    I don't believe someone from US will win. Roth, Oates, DeLillo, McCarthy - I don't think they deserve the prize. Of course maybe there's someone I don't know that deserves, but two English writers in sucession is not probable.

    In drama I really admire Brian Friel, from Ireland, but I wouldn't bet in it. Jelinek is a very important drama writer, but it seems only her novels are famous worldwide.

    I think maybe an African writer will win. If I remember correctly, some years ago they sent some experts to North America to check the writers there, and a year or two later send those experts to Africa. As Munro won...

    From Africa I really enjoy reading Mia Couto, altough I'm not sure he is Nobel-worthy (yet). He has a lot of style, but maybe he is lacking a masterpiece.

    Now and then people talk about Ngugi Wa Thiongo. I read "The Wizard of the Crow" some years ago and I can't see anything good in it. I would be very disappointed. Other people talk about Nuruddin Farah... I read "Maps" and I disliked the book a lot, too.

    I remember that in "Elizabeth Costello" Coetzee did a criticism about African literature, and African writers, that is very agressive and poignant... I'm very unsure about them, too.
    Last edited by Vazquez; 23-Jul-2014 at 03:45.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 Speculation

    I have a feeling it's Africa's year. So Ngugi might finally win it, or Assia Djebar. Ngugi's edge is that he's culturally African, and writes in an African language. While Djebar is culturally Arabic, and writes in French, her edge is that if she were to win the Nobel would have its first back-to-back female winners.

    If the Academy were to go to the U.S. I think it would be Pynchon, but that's highly unlikely to happen.

    As always I'm hoping for Kundera to finally get it.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 Speculation

    For me it is one of these two options:

    Sub Saharan Africa: If Englund keeps on "paying debts", Africa is the next in line. Sub-Saharan Africa would be the recipient and of course, Ngugi Wa Thiong'o would be the most probable name to occupy this spot. Nuruddin Farah is another visible name but I don't see him strong enough to get it. I'd love to see a Portuguese language writer win it but I don't think Mia Couto, Pepetela, Luandino Viera, José Eduardo Agualusa, etc. stand a chace.

    Forgotten Europe: If the prize doesn't go to Europe this year, it would be only the second time in the prize history not going to Europe for three years or more (This only happened in the 90's with a surprising 5 non European laureates in a row). So why not an European country that has never been awarded with the Nobel: Ismail Kadare for Albania or Cees Nooteboom for The Netherlands.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 Speculation

    Just some more names:

    Usually people talk about Ko Un. I read some poems from him and they seemed quite good. It would beat Mo Yan as the shortest name in Nobel history, so...

    I would be infinitely happy if Ferreira Gullar would win the prize. But maybe I think he is Nobel-worthy just because he is Brazilian and we don't have the prize. Maybe it's one of those things it's hard to be impartial. Not only, he is the last of the greatest Brazilian writers... I enjoy his poems, love some of them, altough he has just a few books - his canon is made of 8 books, and they are quite short. I believe he has written half of the poems Transtromer wrote. And his remaining works - children's literature, essays, etc. - goes from ok to abysmally bad. So, in the bottom of my heart I know he will never win (but it would be nice anyway).

    In the bunch of writers I read and I think should not win, I would add: Atwood, Pynchon, Lobo Antunes, Eco, Kadare and Nooteboom. But...

    (wow, what a negative post!).

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Vazquez View Post
    I would be infinitely happy if Ferreira Gullar would win the prize. But maybe I think he is Nobel-worthy just because he is Brazilian and we don't have the prize. Maybe it's one of those things it's hard to be impartial. Not only, he is the last of the greatest Brazilian writers... I enjoy his poems, love some of them, altough he has just a few books - his canon is made of 8 books, and they are quite short. I believe he has written half of the poems Transtromer wrote. And his remaining works - children's literature, essays, etc. - goes from ok to abysmally bad. So, in the bottom of my heart I know he will never win (but it would be nice anyway).
    .
    Count me in as a fan of this man. Hard to find translations of his works, but I read Poema Sucio & Ciudades Inventadas, both in Spanish and loved them.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 Speculation

    Wasn't Pamuk muslim?

    And anyway, I think after 2 years away from Europe they'll return to the continent, and after Munro it will be a male (although back-to-back female winners would be nice, it hasn't yet happened, so I' bet on a guy).

    Javier Marias definitely deserves it, I'm rooting for him. Vila-Matas is good, but none of his work has really wowed me. Until Marias wins I cannot get behind the idea of him netting it.

    Kundera's chance has come and gone, and The Unbearable Lightness of Being didn't really strike a chord with me, I don't care if he doesn't win.

    Jon Fosse was unknown to many until his sudden surge in the odds last year. I've read a minor play by him (wasn't that good, but then pretty much all of the introduction was about how it would be nearly impossible to translate all of the nuances in the original into English without sounding awkward) and a stream-of-conscious novella, Aliss at the Fire, that I really enjoyed. I hope a few more of his prose pieces get translated. He's a little young, but given his reputation in Europe, I think he will at one point win. As for the other big Norwegian whose been rocking literary circles, Knausgaard is at the moment a controversial figure. In the future his reputation may solidify, and then he will have a chance, but for now there is no way.

    There are plenty of Italian writers, but I haven't read any of them and haven't looked into them, but I think some have a chance; it has been almost twenty years since Fo's win.

    Nadas and Krasznahorkai seem to be the best Hungarian writers right now. I have a few of their books (though I haven't had a chance to really read them) and looked into them. K's themes and writing style resonate with me more, I'd rather see him win, but then I haven't exactly given Nadas a fair chance yet. I wish the Academy would visit a country more than once a generation. I know that's a slight exaggeration, but still, look at the French winners from 1947 to 1964, in '47 Andre Gide won, Mauriac in '52, Camus '57, Saint John-Perse '60, and Sartre in '64. Other than maybe Perse, today's critical opinion is that they are all strong laureates who definitely deserved the prize. If the candidate is strong enough, I don't see why they should be passed over just because one of his compatriots won a few years ago.

    Also, I know she's a woman, so I don't know how likely she is to win this year, but Svetlana Alexievich: wow! Some might call her work "oppression-porn," but Voices from Chernobyl was so good, definitely one of the best books I've read this year. I hope she gets it at some point. Tis might not be her year, but keep an eye on her.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    And of course, the biggest debt for this year would be with the US, but I don't see it coming; no back to back English language winners.
    Also, in the early 90s there was something like 4 back-to-back English winners. I don't think it will go to the US either, but don't wanna write them off completely, so here's some thoughts on English language writers:
    Among prose writers, I don't think any of the "Big 4" will win. I've heard good things about Stephen Dixon, another writer I haven't had a chance to read but desperately want to, he probably doesn't have a chance but the Academy has always embraced criminally underrated writers, so who knows. Everyone raves about Vollmann; I've read a few of his minor stuff, wasn't impressed, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and try to read something more substantial by him soon. Some might be worried that his major themes (violence and whores) will keep him out, but Camilo Cela won in '89 for exploring similar motifs, and both go about it in such a different way that I don't think Cela won Vollmann's Nobel or anything, like what I've heard about Bellow and Roth.

    If they return to England, I hope it's Ishiguro.

    As for Australia, Peter Carey has no chance. His recent books have been god awful--The Chemistry of Tears is one of the worst books I've ever read. Murnane is a great writer who would be my current pick for an Australian candidate, but it wouldn't be that big a deal if he didn't get it. Flangan I haven't read, but he seems like a strong writer. Malouf bores me, and I think if he won he would've done it ages ago. As for Tim Winton, he's young and could wait a couple of years, which is why I'm giving Murnane preference, but really Winton is amazing. Cloudstreet blew me away, one of the best contemporary English novels in my opinion, and some of his other books, like Breath, while not being as strong, are certainly no slackers. I've heard it said that he's to "light" for the prize, but I don't think that at all.

    As for English poets and playwrights...I must admit my knowledge is lacking, but I'm sure there are plenty of great ones who deserve it too.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by redheadshadz View Post

    Also, I know she's a woman, so I don't know how likely she is to win this year, but Svetlana Alexievich: wow! Some might call her work "oppression-porn," but Voices from Chernobyl was so good, definitely one of the best books I've read this year. I hope she gets it at some point. Tis might not be her year, but keep an eye on her.
    "Oppression porn". Wow. I can't imagine anyone calling her work that, but people differ. I haven't read Voices from Chernobyl. I'm a bit scared that it will be too hard to handle, but other two books I've read of her were absolutely amazing. If you haven't yet, definitely read War's Unwomanly Face. I think she deserves the Nobel Prize and I'd like her to win. I'd love Kundera to get it as well, but I don't think it could happen. And Adam Zagajewski for patriotic reasons (and I think his work deserves it but there are probably many poets who do deserve it as well).

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 Speculation

    One thing I love about Nobel time is that you get to know a lot of writers. I'll check Svetlana Alexievich for sure!

    Reading about her in wikipedia, she has won a fair share of prizes, and that is quite important for the Academy, it seems. Of course she is a writer that is very close geographically to one of the biggest problems on the world today (the Ukraine/Russian war, let's call it that). I wonder if this would change anything.

    Pamuk is Muslim, yes.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Vazquez View Post
    One thing I love about Nobel time is that you get to know a lot of writers. I'll check Svetlana Alexievich for sure!

    Reading about her in wikipedia, she has won a fair share of prizes, and that is quite important for the Academy, it seems. Of course she is a writer that is very close geographically to one of the biggest problems on the world today (the Ukraine/Russian war, let's call it that). I wonder if this would change anything.

    Pamuk is Muslim, yes.
    Bjorn, who used to post on this forum as well I think, posted very interesting thoughts on her books on "the other forum". http://w11.zetaboards.com/thefiction...pic/9203592/1/

    Alexievich receiving the Nobel would be amazing as no one was awarded it for non-fiction yet, I don't think.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 Speculation

    Speaking honestly, and being incredibly proud of Munro's win last year, I do not think that my homeland has any other writer that is deserving of the prize at the moment - and certainly none that has the international attention in the same way that Munro has. Atwood is nowhere near Nobel quality, even if I have enjoyed some of her works and find her to be both intelligent and inventive. None of her books have stayed with me even as much as a single short story of Munro's. She won't receive it now, thank goodness, and with any luck Murakami won't either. But that may just be my distaste for his writing (though I keep on giving his books another chance as there seems to be something unique about his writing and ideas that attracts me, even if ultimately I find his work mostly dissatisfactory).

    Months ago I asserted that there were at least six Americans who were worthy of the prize. I'm changing that - I can only now think of three that are good enough and have had enough output. Vollman, who I think is too young but deserves it, McCarthy, who I think it too old but deserves it, and Pynchon, who I think is unlikely to receive it because I don't know if his work translates well outside of the American milieu. In the past I've rooted most for McCarthy, but he is quickly being replaced by Vollman as my preferred choice. I think his writing is phenomenal, he is totally original, and he plays with plenty of forms and ideas. Prodigious - perhaps even too prolific - but incredibly talented. I hope that he is the next American to receive the prize.

    I am a great fan of Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, and would be thrilled to see him win it.

    Salman Rushdie is a deserving author.

    Svetlana Alexievich is an inspiring writer as well - when I read "Voices of Chernobyl" earlier this year I was quite stunned. Perhaps one of the most important reads I've come across in the past year, though I don't think that I've gotten to read too many essential reads this year at all (with any luck, that will be changing with the second half of the year).

    The two books I've read by Wieslaw Mysliwski have been wonderful, and I think he is a definite contender despite his age.

    Javier Marias should win at some point. Sooner rather than later. It would be a tragedy for him to pass away without being awarded the most important prize in the industry.

    Peter Nadas' Parallel Lives is a monstrous, consuming book, and I have loved every moment I've dipped into it. I can only hope to sit down and truly enjoy it soon. Once I'm done my thesis, that is my first massive book to conquer.

    Lazslo Krasznahorkai will win at some point. He's still young, but I wouldn't mind him winning at his age. All three of his novels that I have read have been wonderful.

    Mikhail Shishkin's Maidenhair is wonderful, and I'd like to read more of his work.

    I admit my list is very European-centered - I would like to expand my reading into other parts of the world, but I'm still playing catch-up on so many great books from the past 25 years that I can't help but stay stuck in that continent it seems. I would love to read more from Africa - I have a small but formidable collection of books, and one of the nearly certain future Nobel winners is from that continent, so that is worth something for sure - and more from Asia, India, Oceania, and other places, but I just don't have the familiarity it seems. That's why I love these kinds of threads. I am always discovering new writers, books, and ideas that I can't wait to explore one day.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 Speculation

    I can't find the article anymore, but last year after Svetlana Alexievich's huge jump in the Ladbrokes odds (from not even being listed to being a frontrunner) I read an article where the author claims that he placed a series of bets to test the Ladbrokes system. A substantial bet was placed on Alexievich and she was subsequently listed with great odds.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 Speculation

    I would love to see Ngūgī wa Thiong'o, Péter Nádas, Lazslo Krasznahorkai, or Javier Marias pick it up, and whilst an American Nobel would not be the worst tragedy - whereas Murakami would be - I still do not think it will happen.

    In Asia, I can throw a few guesses around in China but given Mo Yan's recent win, I'm not at all predicting a return to that country in the foreseeable future. Can Xue is perhaps one of the best writers in China and certainly one of the world's most avant-garde; I am a big fan of her writing and hope she might be rewarded within the next decade, since she is getting on a bit already (!) Su Tong, Yan Lianke, and Han Shaogong seem like possible contenders, if you were to pick the best from the literary scene at the moment, but I don't think they hold anything compared to other global writers [and not to generalise, but perhaps suffer from being rather similar to Mo Yan in terms of style and content]. Li Ang from Taiwan is great too, whilst though Yu Hua and Wang Anyi are about the right age their output might be too much on the lean side to truly deserve the prize.

    Excluding Murakami, Banana Yoshimoto for Japan - at a push - but her writing seems far from the Nobel aesthetic. Vietnam's best chance would be Duong Thu Huoung, who certainly seems to be a good writer but reading one of her early books, I didn't feel she was too spectacular. Ko Un always crops up each year but I've yet to read anything substantial by him, nor any South Korean fiction come to think of it. I think a few of the Misty Poets - Duo Duo and Bei Dao - might be China's best bets poetry wise, but again, relatively, their chances are slim.

    Does anyone have any enlightened insights into further African or Asian contenders?
    Last edited by spacepirate; 02-Aug-2014 at 19:55.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 Speculation

    There's an African writer that is having a beautiful release of his works here in Brazil - Pepetela. I bought one of his books and will be reading it soon. He deals a lot with the end of colonialism in Angola. Another African writer I read good things about is Nawal El Saadawi. She won the Stieg Dagerman prize, also won by Le Clézio and Jelinek. The prize is Swedish, maybe some people voting on it are also on the Academy.

    A writer from South America maybe I should mention is Eduardo Galeano. It's one of those writers you read him, you love him. But his historical accounts are very passionate - more passionate than realistic, sometimes. I think that would count against him. He also won the Stieg Dagerman.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 Speculation

    Kundera has released a new novel this year, so I guess his chances of winning rest on that being any good. (I've not got around to it yet, as it's only available in French and Italian so far - reading it in French is my summer project!)

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Elie View Post
    Kundera has released a new novel this year, so I guess his chances of winning rest on that being any good. (I've not got around to it yet, as it's only available in French and Italian so far - reading it in French is my summer project!)
    In Spanish too. Yesterday I saw it available at a local bookstore, incredibly expensive by the way.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 Speculation

    For Japan, I've heard mentions of some poets in the past but can't now remember their names. Yoko Ogawa is too lightweight in my eyes. Yoko Tawada might have a chance. I got to see her perform a reading up in Boston and talk to some scholars which helped me understand her work better. So far a lot of her work has been hit and miss for me, and I especially did not like "The Bridegroom was a Dog," arguably her most famous book that's based off an obscure Japanese fairy tale. Apparently, much of her work is like that, riffing off old stories. Sometimes her work can stand on its own, other times and understanding of the original story is necessary to appreciate her. She sort of reminds me of Vilas-Matas in this way. Her background also might help bolster her Nobel odds: she moved to Germany after college and has stayed there ever since, publishing books in both Japanese and German while exploring themes of isolation and language barriers. Another possible name is Minae Mizumura. I've only heard of her, not read anything, but she seems like a solid writer, and her masterpiece, A True Novel, a sort of modern day retelling of Wuthering Heights, was a runner up for best translated novel last year, if she hadn't been going up against Krasznahorkai she might've won.

    It's a shame about Kenji Nakagami, a name I never see around here. When he exploded on to the Tokyo literary scene with his novella The Cape (one of my favorites) some heralded him as Oe's successor as leading Japanese writer. Had he not died at 46 he might've won, or at least been the Japanese writer most likely to win. Hardly any of his work has been translated, which is a real shame. He was a member of the Burakumin, a class of outcastes not known to many outsiders. The Cape, luckily, is in English, along with a book of his short stories (good luck finding a copy of that, though) and I heartily recommend it.

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