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Thread: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

  1. #1
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    Default Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    It's that time of the year, again!

    9 weeks before we have this year's laureate, which I assume will be announced October 6th, 2016.

    So come on and start tossing up names as usual!
    Deus ex machina

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Wow, initially when I see this new thread I thought "well, it came early this year". But then I checked on previous years and we've started it in mid July!
    This year is going to be interesting, especially for those guys who want to predict the winner by some Swedish guys taking books out of a library

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Ok, let´s start with 4 names that would make me very happy if any of them would win (in brackets, their ages):

    Ko Un (83) - I can say he is my favorite living poet. I believe he has a very deep understanding of man and nature - more specific, man´s soul in the universe. Of course it´s hard to judge a poet we read only in translation, but even losing cadence and rhyme, I fell very affected by his words. One thing that I believe plays against him is that his work is quite long, so the Academy must have a very good translator so they could read everything Ko Un wrote. I myself have read about 150 poems by him, and that´s not even, I believe, 10% of his work. Another point I hope don´t count against him is his religiosity. A buddhist, reading his poems there are some conceptions that may be strange to western citizens. Anyway, on the plus side, another thing that must be praised is his care and strugle towards the Korean language. Eg, he is part of a group that works toward avoiding that the Korean spoken in both Koreas became too far apart. As those countries live in worlds apart, the language is changing bit by bit, so without this work they will lost the common base.

    Ngugi Wa Thiong´o (78) - They didn´t give the prize to Chinua Achebe, and they should have. And imo Ngugi is stronger than Achebe. I have read 4 books by him and he seems to me to be a great storyteller, a keeper of tradition, a defender of education and emancipation, a man with a great sense of his own history and the history of his people. Needless to say that Africa is a forgotten continent even in literature, and for me he is high above the other living African writers (that have not been awarded yet). On the negative side, his work is not constant - between Matagari and The Wizard of the Crown it has 15 years apart, and after WotC, nothing else until now (it seems a new novel will be published next year) - and even though I never read his plays, for what I´ve read about, they are weak. And the Academy must be able to judge him not only as an English writer, but also as a writer in Gikuyu. He is sometimes a bit offensive with other writers and sometimes a bit arrogant (he used to say that he should win the Nobel, and he has openly criticized African writers that write in English), but on the whole a very deserving writer.

    Ismail Kadare (80) - I haven´t enjoyed everything I have read from him, but he has a long and amazing career. And writing some lesser stories now doesn´t diminish his work and importance. He tells about many aspects of the history of mankind/eastern Europe that would be forgotten/ignored, and that´s something the Academy is found of awarding. But, like Ko Un and Ngugi, I wonder if is that case of - "if he was to win, he would have already won it". Those three writers are quite old, so... let´s say it´s almost "now or never" for them.

    Cesar Aira (67) - I love his works. And I´ll be sincere - for me he is a genius. Even his worst book is still a lot of fun, intelligent, smart. They grip me hard, always subverting what I would expect from a story. A vanguardist, someone that is showing the way to future writers. Also, a thinker - his essays about literature and art are top notch. A bit too strange, maybe, but the Academy has chosen excentric people before. Also, he is a "grower" - once read you can´t forget his words, and they become clearer and with more meaning as the time goes by.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Interesting selection Vasquez, so let's go ahead and tag each one: A Poet, an African writer, European male novelist & a Latin American writer.

    Now If I'd have to get the best candidate based on those tags here would be my selection for a "short list":


    An African writer: 100% agree with you. If an African writer has to be awarded, and it's already time since the last one was Soyinka (don't really know why), no doubt it should be him. My readings on him are limited to only one novel, but it was good enough to convince me he is a very good writer. Cannot say he's better than Achebe, but in my opinion Soyinka's Nobel should've gone to Achebe instead. Ngugi Wa Thiong'o without a doubt.

    European male novelist: I've been a fan of Kadare for years and read over 15 novels by him. Unfortunately the last one was so bad that I still have that bad taste with me. Of course he deserves it, but being over 80 does not help him at all. If it's about momentum, why not Karl Ove Knausgard? Nowadays Min Kamp has been translated to many languages, in some of them almost completely (Vol 5. in English, Vol. 4 in Spanish) and it's magnificence can be now almost fully appreciated. I think he is a good time for him, doesn't matter if he's considered too young.

    Latin American writer: Cesar Aira is kind of hyped in the English reading world right now (again not sure why), but in the world of Hispanic letters he is way below the figure of Ricardo Piglia. If we have to pick a Latin American writer instead of him we don't even need to get out of the country; Piglia is the wisest choice for it.

    A Poet: I know it won't happen, but wouldn't it be amazing to see Nicanor Parra a laureate at 102 years old? I see it impossible I'd have to stick with another perennial candidate, Adonis.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Where on earth did you get this notion that Aira is hyped in the English reading world, when only a handful of his nouvelles (out of more than 70!) have been translated? If anything Aira is much more appreciated in France and Italy. But if a Spanish language writer is hyped then that would be Piglia, the eternal lobbyist for prizes.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Vazquez View Post
    Cesar Aira (67) - I love his works. And I´ll be sincere - for me he is a genius. Even his worst book is still a lot of fun, intelligent, smart. They grip me hard, always subverting what I would expect from a story. A vanguardist, someone that is showing the way to future writers. Also, a thinker - his essays about literature and art are top notch. A bit too strange, maybe, but the Academy has chosen excentric people before. Also, he is a "grower" - once read you can´t forget his words, and they become clearer and with more meaning as the time goes by.
    Probably won't get it, though, precisely for being a vanguardist or ludic writer, not quite fitting the Nobel mandate of chosing "socially committed" literature.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    Wow, initially when I see this new thread I thought "well, it came early this year". But then I checked on previous years and we've started it in mid July!
    Yes on 2013 this discussion start on July 13th, on 2014 on July 21st and last year on August 3rd... So it is still time for this year!
    Deus ex machina

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    I haven´t read Piglia or Knausgard yet, but I know that Aira himself is a great fan of Piglia. I´ll put them on my to-read list - together with Javier Marias.

    Another name in the Spanish speaking world that must me mentioned is Enrique Vila-Matas (68). But I´m not sure yet about him being a veritable Nobel candidate. Maybe for me it´s similar to you with Kadaré - a bad taste after El Mal de Montano. But even the ones I have enjoyed by him... not sure, not sure at all.
    Last edited by Vazquez; 05-Aug-2016 at 15:45.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel del Real View Post
    Interesting selection Vasquez, so let's go ahead and tag each one: A Poet, an African writer, European male novelist & a Latin American writer.
    Ok let's try :

    An African writer: Ngugi Wa THIONG’O and Nuruddin FARAH are the two front runner, my outsiders : Ben OKRI, Miao COUTO and PEPETELA.

    European male novelist: Since I’ve read some of his books I have only one name to give: László KRASZNAHORKI for is amazing writing!

    Latin American writer: No idea here. I will not say the name of Mrs. Elena PONIATOWSKA, otherwise Daniel will kill me!...
    Juan Gabriel VÁSQUEZ
    is too young… Claribel ALEGRÍA too old… So, let’s say Horacio CASTELLANOS-MOYA and Carlos LISCANO!

    A Poet: Adonis and Ko UN are here the two front runner here. My choise will be the American John ASHBERY but I suppose that he’s too old now for the Nobel…
    Deus ex machina

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Stiffelio View Post
    Where on earth did you get this notion that Aira is hyped in the English reading world, when only a handful of his nouvelles (out of more than 70!) have been translated? If anything Aira is much more appreciated in France and Italy. But if a Spanish language writer is hyped then that would be Piglia, the eternal lobbyist for prizes.
    Because he is always in the betting lists for the Nobel and Piglia is not. On it's own, Respiración Artificial is way better than the hundred novelitas by Aira put together.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    I can vouch for Aira being bigger than Piglia being more popular in English. Lots of articles, nominations for awards (the Man Booker International and Neustadt), etc. I think a part of it is that he only recently caught on in the English world a few years ago and he has plenty of books to keep the fire stoked. Thus far, his books have been kind of hit or miss with me. Going by quality, I don't think I could see him win, but who knows, they've picked worse than him. And I remember reading an article once analyzing his works through a political lens and the results were surprising. The main thing I remember is the argument for the ghosts in his novella of that name being the spirits of those who "disappeared" during the 70s and early 80s.

    Anyway, like I said in the other thread, I'll be keeping an eye on Magris, Marias, and Ishiguro this year. Other than Marias, though, I'm rooting for a different set of writers: Hwang Sok-Yong, Ko Un, Jon Fosse, Edward Albee, Lobo-Antunes. I'd love to see Can Xue get it one day, too.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Hoping for Ko Un or Ngugi to win but we all know that 2016 is going to be Kazuo Ishiguro's year

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    To be honest, I'm not a fan of Aira winning, though that is because I have only read one of his books (The Hare) and I have documented how disappointing it was in many places (including this site). I'll give another of his works a read one day, but I am not in any rush. It will take a lot of improvement in his next book for me to consider pushing him into Nobel territory, but I'd be willing to offer him a space at the table with the perennial "also rans but just not quite good enough". He can join Margaret Atwood, Haruki Murakami, and a host of others. I think I would add Ishiguro to this table based on what I have read of his - one novel, which was very good, and a collection of short stories, which was terrible and trite - though I am willing to read more of his earlier work and be proven wrong.

    I will limit my suggestions to 5 this year, to act as a personal shortlist. I don't think all of these figures are equal, to be frank, and I don't necessarily have the most familiarity with their works - in many cases I have only read one or two of their books - and I certainly don't know a ton about world literature so I can't suggest that they are all deserving in comparison with the rest of the talent that exists out there, but I would like to toss these names into the mix anyways.

    1. Ngugi wa Thiong'o
    2. Nawal El-Sadaari
    3. Antonio Lobo Antunes
    4. Louise Erdrich
    5. Javier Marias

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Our shorlists are always very similar dont you guys think?
    There is a portuguese poet that i like very much called gastão cruz.I would be very happy to see him win. But that is almost impossible . have you guys read Gastão cruz?

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    I wouldn't mind seeing the following writers win the prize:

    1. Marie NDiaye (still quite young, though)
    2. Dubravka Ugresic
    3. Javier Marias
    4. Ngugi wa Thiong'o (wish he had published something more recent)
    5. Anne Carson
    6. Adam Zagajewski
    7. Laszlo Krasznahorkai
    8. Adonis
    9. Shuntaro Tanikawa (dark horse)

    I'll save the tenth slot in honor of a major writer who should have won the Nobel Prize but passed away recently: Mahasweta Devi.

    Can Kazuo Ishiguro really win this considering that his last book is The Buried Giant? I would think the Nobel committee would wait for him to write something more substantial.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Yes, Krasznahorkai is going to win rather sooner than later. Ugresic is a favorite, too. Ngugi wa Thiong'o hasn't published anything of significance for about a decade, this makes it difficult, I would be suprised. I would love to see a winner from China, Korea or the like.

    When it comes to US writers I think that Marilynne Summers Robinson and Anne Carson are much more likely to win than any of those half-dead irrelephants. I am convinced that Pynchon, DeLillo, Roth, Ashbery, Albee etc. do not have the slightest chance anymore. Cormac McCarthy could be the only Methuselah still in the running with a very very tiny outside chance for the upcoming years (not this year) if and only if his more-than-two-decades-in-the-making The Passenger will be on the level of a Suttree or a Blood Meridian.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Another favorite is Mircea Cartarescu, his new novel Levantul is allegedly even better than his monument Orbitor. If that's true he will be a sure bet for the Nobel for the next decade.

    And never forget the Russians...

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by JVG View Post
    There is a portuguese poet that i like very much called gastão cruz.I would be very happy to see him win. But that is almost impossible . have you guys read Gastão cruz?
    No, I´ll check him.

    Quote Originally Posted by Septularisen View Post
    my outsiders : (Ben OKRI), Mia COUTO and PEPETELA.
    Quote Originally Posted by OverTheMountains View Post
    3. Antonio Lobo Antunes
    From my point of view, ALA is way above those others. I must emphasize I´m not a big fan of ALA, usually his books bother the hell out of me - but I have read a couple I enjoyed a lot, too. Regardless, I think he is a more deserving writer.

    Mia Couto is a nice guy, but as a Portuguese critic said (publico.pt, I can´t acess it ´cause I´ve reached my monthly quote of readings ): too much poetry, too little story, too didatic [edit: if I remember it well, the term "sugar-coated" was used too]. And his last work, "Mulheres de Cinza", first part of a trilogy that everyone was expecting to be his magnum opus, seems to be quite similar to everything he did before.

    Pepetela - read two books from him and I thought him way, way below almost every other important writer in Portuguese language I know. Correct, but simple. But maybe he has some masterpiece I don´t know about.

    As I do every year, I must mention:

    Ferreira Gullar (86) - Using logic and reason, I don´t believe he will win, but of course I would be very happy if he does. I admit he is not as strong as Ko Un. And I can´t say about the universality of his works. Of course we have Dirty Poem, but besides that most of his poems deals with things that are too Brazilian to keep the meaning in other countries. Not only, but his works outside poetry are not that interesting. In other words, I love his work, but I understand there are better writers around.

    Quote Originally Posted by Uemarasan View Post
    4. Ngugi wa Thiong'o (wish he had published something more recent)
    He finished his autobiography this year (3 volumes). I read the first volume, a good book, not brilliant, but good. He occasionally releases some collections of articles (this very year he released Secure the Base: Making Africa Visible in the Globe), but those books are quite expensive so no way I can afford them - so I don´t know how good he is at that.
    Last edited by Vazquez; 07-Aug-2016 at 20:36. Reason: typo

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by EllisIsland View Post
    (...)those half-dead irrelephants. I am convinced that Pynchon, DeLillo, Roth, Ashbery, Albee etc. do not have the slightest chance anymore.
    "Irrelephants" - loved it!

    Can I add Oates?

  20. #20

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by EllisIsland View Post
    Yes, Krasznahorkai is going to win rather sooner than later. Ugresic is a favorite, too. Ngugi wa Thiong'o hasn't published anything of significance for about a decade, this makes it difficult, I would be suprised. I would love to see a winner from China, Korea or the like.

    When it comes to US writers I think that Marilynne Summers Robinson and Anne Carson are much more likely to win than any of those half-dead irrelephants. I am convinced that Pynchon, DeLillo, Roth, Ashbery, Albee etc. do not have the slightest chance anymore. Cormac McCarthy could be the only Methuselah still in the running with a very very tiny outside chance for the upcoming years (not this year) if and only if his more-than-two-decades-in-the-making The Passenger will be on the level of a Suttree or a Blood Meridian.
    I like tossing in Anne Carson's name. I very nearly did so myself. She's a fantastic poet, and really pushes the form. I don't know much about poetry in the world - even less than I know about novelists - so I really can't make too much of an argument for her being included. She is fantastic. I love her work. I think it is well-informed, wise, attentive to humanity. She is one of the few living poets that I get excited to read more of. Again, though, this is likely because of my ignorance. Ko Un has moved me as well, and Adunis has been impossible to get my hands on thus far. I don't know anything about Marilynne Robinson's writing, other than that her fiction is of the highest caliber by reputation (and it is always very high on my reading list, but trying to read fewer and fewer Americans and more and more from around the world has pushed her further down my pile of authors to read. Which is too bad. People describe her with magical language. Based on her reputation alone I wouldn't be opposed to seeing her win, though I would prefer Louise Erdrich to be the next American. She has the power of Toni Morrison's writing in her story-telling, as far as I'm concerned, and Toni Morrison is one of the great winners in my opinion.

    I don't mind forgetting about the other American greats, including McCarthy, though I do hope to read more of all of them. They are far from bad, and all of them would be deserving based on what I have read.

    I need to read Ugresic. She's on my pile, approaching the top with each passing day, but she isn't easy to find in English in small towns, and even more difficult to find in English now that I live in a Spanish Speaking country. Krasznahorkai must win. Any day, any time, I don't care, but I think he has many years to go before he does. Same with Tavares, and Catarescu, and Ndiaye, and Knausgaard, and maybe even Ferante, and maybe even Neuman too. Really, Uemerasan's list is fantastic, but it is hard to narrow it down to a probable or likely shortlist. The reality, as many of us have noted far too frequently, is that there are far too many damned good writers out there and not enough years in their lives to properly award them with the Nobel that they deserve.

    Antunes is running out of years and is one of our greatest living writers. Marias is a marvel, and to my mind the most important writer currently writing in Spanish and available in many languages. With Ngugi - I would disagree with you about his not having written anything of import in nearly a decade though. He has released two very well received memoirs and a book of essays. I think when we remember Ngugi as a front-runner we must remember that he is not merely a writer of fiction, but also an important force and voice in the argument for an African literary tradition which is based in African-language. This is not an insignificant contribution to world literature. It could even be one of the most important as we move forward in the preservation of indigenous languages and literary heritages around the world.
    Last edited by OverTheMountains; 07-Aug-2016 at 18:40.

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