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Thread: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 Speculation

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    Award Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 Speculation

    Well, since nobody else volunteered to make this thread, I'm taking matters in my own hands. It's that time of the year again, etc.


    Writers who won in the past few years:

    2010, Spanish language
    2011, Poet
    2012, Asian writer
    2013, Short story
    2014, French writer
    2015, Non-fiction


    2017 ?

    Who are they going to award this year?
    Will it be a playwright? Will it be a perennial? An obscure writer? Or will it be a painter/photographer ("A picture is worth a thousand words" etc etc)?

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 Speculation

    Since Sara Danius took over as Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy there have been two "unconventional" winners: a historian of sorts and the first songwriter to win in over 100 years. It's possible that she's requested the Nobel committee to look into and recommend unconventional candidates, the Academy's speech on Bob Dylan last year certainly made it sound like they're trying to more broadly define literature. That being said, someone who primarily works as a painter/photographer/comic book artist/newspaper columnist/film scriptwriter etc is not going to win. That's too unconventional and too outside of the scope of what's broadly defined as literature for the prize's purposes. I suppose never say never and all that, but I really don't see it happening.

    This is going to be a very long post. It's mostly adapted from what I posted the last couple of years on other literary discussion sites and I've updated it a bit for this year.

    Because over the years I’ve seen (across a multitude of boards, sites, and articles) plenty of ridiculous “candidates” that don’t even remotely fit the criteria of an actual, winning Nobel laureate, here are some basic guidelines the winner will almost surely meet. This is and has been the Swedish Academy’s criteria as of late. Much of this is also backed up by statistics of nearly every laureate since the beginning. The winner could fall outside of these parameters, but it’s very unlikely. I sound like a know it all, oh well. I’ve read through most of the previous winners biographical and publishing information for this, as well as older Academy write ups (they used to publish press releases and speeches emphasizing why the author and won citing numerous works with details).

    I’d also just like to point out that the last couple years the Nobel Facebook page has very blatantly posted clues saying who the winner would be. This is likely to happen again a few days before the prize announcement. Based on last year’s predictions thread, the obviousness of these flew over the heads of most members here and spawned numerous incorrect interpretations: Numerous American laureates, quotes on poetry, and then Tagore, the only other laureate who won specifically for songwriting. This all made Dylan quite obvious, which is why his betting odds shot up at the end.

    Nationality matters. The winner in 2017 will not be American (Bob Dylan, 2016, was american). The only time citizens from the same country have won back to back was T.S. Eliot in 1948 followed by William Faulkner in 1949. However, Eliot at this point in time was a British citizen, though the Nobel site seems to consider him an American per their Nominations page, which places Eliot in the Untied States on their map. As such though, Eliot can essentially be seen as British in this win (though Eliot himself insisted that his poetry was American).

    They will have published something new within the last 5 years. If they haven’t published anything new since 2012, they will not win. And by something I mean an actual book or new collection, not compilations of old material. Out of 100+ laureates there have been only five exceptions to this. In some cases these winners were employed by their government’s as diplomats, and they likely didn’t win at an earlier point in time because they were technically government employees: Frederic Mistral with 7 years between his last work and winning, Paul von Heyse (10 years, now seen generally as a poor choice and someone’s whose reputation has massively diminished), Gabriela Mistral (7 years), Juan Ramón Jiménez (6 years), and finally Giorgos Seferis (8 years between publishing and winning).

    This “publication time rule” excludes a lot of authors generally named as “perennial candidates.” That’s just how it works though. Because of this, you can almost surely exclude: Philip Roth, Cees Nooteboom, Peter Nadas, etc

    They will be between 50 and 88 years old. A writer in their 40s hasn’t won since Joseph Brodsky, 30 years ago. The only few writers in their 40s who are notable enough to win this aren't likely to me. Karl Ove Knausgaard (more on him later) hasn't written anything of note since My Struggle was finished (some short books for his children, a collection of essays on Football). At this point in time I think My Struggle is recent enough that its literary reputation could still be seen as a fad, one whose importance and reputation could erode in a decade or so. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche has only written 4 books (too few). I can't name anyone else under 50 who is notable enough to warrant a mentioned here.

    The author will have published at least 6 works (6 individual books/collections). From what I can tell pretty much the only exception to this was Gabriela Mistral, who at the time of winning had published only three collections of poetry.

    The author will not be someone who writes separate works under a pseudonym. Someone who writes works they find to be less “literary” than their main output and publishes these works under a separate name is not going to win. Joyce Carol Oates did this with a few books at one point and was heavily criticized (even by her own publishes) for it. For this reason I do not believe John Banville will ever win. To date he has written 10 crime/mystery books as “Benjamin Black.”

    The author will not be an anonymous, faceless name. Attending the ceremony doesn’t really matter, but the Swedish Academy and the Nobel foundation still like to have a face to put to the names they award. There still needs to be some sense of the person being a public figure, someone who exists, who you can look at. Thomas Pynchon and Elena Ferrante will never win.

    Authors may have won plenty of other prizes, but the Nobel is the oldest and most prestigious literary prize of this variety. It’s selection and nomination process are stricter and more thorough than nearly all other literary prizes. This is true as well of the length of time given to read and consider candidates.

    The last 4 years male and female winners have swapped on and off. I don't see this trend continuing for long though. This is a prize for literature, not gender equality. And though there have certainly been a lack of female laureates over all, someone isn't and should't win the prize solely because they're female. My list of proposed candidates is lacking in females, this isn't me trying to be sexist or anything like that, I just had trouble finding many female authors who truly meet the criteria I see a Nobel winner having.

    These are my predictions. I have not read works by many of these authors but they all fit the criteria of a winner in an outward sense. Plenty of them may be "unlikely" but based on the SA's criteria they all fit. I’ve based my criteria for being a “potential candidate” based on age, number of works published, years since last published, and international reputation. I’ve provided some of the awards/honors these authors have won that could demonstrate Nobel-worthiness. As far as listing Honorary degrees, I’m leaving out those awarded by universities I’ve never heard of (as I can’t very well judge their reputation) or those that were recently established (newer universities) :

    Ngugi wa Thiongo

    • Yale 2017 Honorary Doctorate
    • Park Kyong-ni Prize 2016
    • Nonino International Prize 2001
    • Shortlisted for the old Man Booker International
    • Finalist for the Neustadt International Prize for Literature


    It’s interesting to me that considering the amount of discussion and press he’s been getting lately he really isn’t all that decorated of an author.

    Haruki Murakami

    • Tanizaki Prize
    • Yomiuri Prize
    • World Fantasy Award
    • Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award
    • Franz Kafka Prize
    • Jerusalem Prize
    • Catalunya Prize
    • Welt-Literaturpreis
    • Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award
    • Honorary Doctorate Princeton University
    • Honorary Doctorate Tufts University
    • Honorary Doctorate Yale University
    • Honorary Doctorate University of Liege
    • Honorary Doctorate University of Hawaii
    • Twice Shortlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award
    • 3x finalist for the Neustadt International Prize for Literature


    Last year 2015 winner Svetlana Alexievich outright stated that she’d like Murakami to win. Given the weight we know nominations from previous winners have, if she nominated him for the prize I could see them giving him serious consideration.

    Ismail Kadare

    • Prix mondial Cino Del Duca
    • Man Booker International Prize
    • Prince of Asturias Award for Literature
    • Jerusalem Prize


    Yan Lianke

    • Lu Xun Literary Prize
    • Franz Kafka Prize


    I really don’t see him as being very likely as an actual laureate, but I suppose maybe Goran Malmqvist (93 years old, a member of the Swedish Academy, a famous sinologist) tries to push through another Chinese author before he dies.

    Colm Toibin

    • International Dublin Literary Award
    • Irish PEN Award
    • Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger
    • Various Booker shortlistings


    Jon Fosse

    • Various Scandinavian and Nordic prizes
    • European prize for Literature
    • Swedish Academy Nordic Prize


    Javier Marias

    • International Dublin Literary Award
    • America Award in Literature


    Amos Oz

    • A list of awards would be far too long, Wikipedia shows many prizes


    Laszlo Krasznahorkai

    • Man Booker International Award
    • America Award in Literature


    Mircea Cartarescu

    • Austrian State Prize for European Literature


    Claudio Magris

    • Worth Prize for European Literature
    • Austrian State Prize for European Literature
    • Peace Prize of the German Book Trade
    • FIL Literary Award in Romance Languages
    • Franz Kafka Prize


    Mia Couto

    • Neustadt International Prize
    • Camoes Prize


    Salman Rushdie

    • Booker of Bookers
    • Golden PEN Award
    • Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award
    • Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger
    • Austrian State Prize for European Literature
    • University of Liege Honorary Doctorate


    Antonio Lobo Antunes

    • International Nonino Prize
    • Austrian State Prize for European Literature
    • Camoes Prize
    • Jerusalem Prize


    Tahar Ben Jelloun

    • international Dublin Literary Award


    He was very frequently mentioned as a possible candidate in the late 1990s-early 2000s, now though, he doesn’t seem to be very seriously considered.

    Tom Stoppard

    • America Award in Literature
    • Honorary Doctorate Yale
    • Honorary Doctorate Oxford
    • Honorary Doctorate Cambridge



    One of the world’s greatest living playwrights. Seems somewhat unlikely, but I supposed if they really want to award Dramatic works and they don’t see Fosse as being up to par

    Adunis

    Supposedly he came out of retirement and wrote a new book-length poem this year. Aside from that, he’s written various nonfiction works on ISIS and other social issues lately. Given his age, this seems to be the last year I’d really give him serious consideration as a potential winner.

    Dubravka Ugrešić

    • Neustadt Prize


    She seems unlikely and I really don’t know much about her. I needed some female writers on this list

    Kamau Brathwaite

    • Neustadt
    • Various poetry prizes


    Again, unlikey and I really don’t know much about him, but he adds some racial and geographic variance to my list

    Enrique Vila-Matas

    • FIL Literary Award in Romance Languages


    César Aira

    • America Award in Literature


    Antonio Muñoz Molina

    • Jerusalem Prize
    • Prince of Asturias Award


    Adam Zagajewski

    • Neustadt Prize
    • Prince Asturias Award


    David Grossman

    • Peace Prize of the German Book Trade
    • Man Booker International


    Finally, we have two authors that I see as being “hot” in 2017 for awards. I do not personally feel that either of them are of Nobel quality or reputation at the moment, but because of their multiple award wins this year a Nobel could be possible:


    Margaret Atwood: Franz Kakfa and Peace Prize of the German Book Trade 2017
    Karl Ove Knausgaard: Jerusalem Prize and Austrian State Prize of European Literature 2017
    Last edited by Isahoinp; 23-Jul-2017 at 18:32.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 Speculation

    Some comments, Isahoinp-sensei. Mostly factually (in the event you're posting this in many places and want everything to be correct).

    1. Nadas has a new book coming out this year (or already came out). http://jelenkor.libricsoport.hu/fool...eszletek-i-ii/

    2. Doris Lessing published two books under a pseudonym: Jane Somers. You might want to probe into this more because she's the only one I can think of off the top of my head (not including pseudonyms writers kept their whole lives, which is another story). Also, you don't think Volodine has a shot at winning?

    3. I'm not one for listing names, but you may want to check out Göran's blog and this video. http://english.cntv.cn/program/cultu...0/106877.shtml He names plenty of authors writing in Chinese in both places.

    4. A musing: you mention the prospectus they used to write. It's a shame they stopped doing so. They're great resources and highlights of which books to start if you're unfamiliar with the laureate. Sigh.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Ater, Lividus, Ruber, & V View Post

    1. Nadas has a new book coming out this year (or already came out). http://jelenkor.libricsoport.hu/fool...eszletek-i-ii/
    Yeah, a 1200 page tome... and he published smaller stuff the last few years. I think he could be a strong contender.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 Speculation

    Margaret Atwood has all the momentum this year to win. She won the Franz Kafka and the Peace Prize of German Book Trade. Her opus 'The Handmaid's Tale' has never been more relevant. It's back in print in new editions and endoresements. A series is made out of it too. There isn't a novel from the last century which has been talked about more than, or had a greater revival, than this one.

    Munro won 4 years ago. So that shouldn't be much of an issue too.

    This seems to be Atwoods year.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 Speculation

    Would be really happy with Adam Zagajewski too. He's won the Neustadt and this year won the Princess of Austurias too. The only problem being a poet (?) won last year.

    But if they can award Wislawa Szymborska (Also polish, like Zagajewski) right after Seamus Heaney, then maybe this is possible?

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 Speculation

    Javier Marias has a great chance too. He has the backing of two past winners. J M Coetzee and Orhan Pamuk. Pamuk even went on to say that one writer he thinks should win the Nobel is Javier Marias. So no doubt that he nominates him. What do you guys think?

  8. #8

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by EllisIsland View Post
    Yeah, a 1200 page tome... and he published smaller stuff the last few years. I think he could be a strong contender.
    That poor contracted translator who has to do the rush job, lol.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 Speculation

    Quote Originally Posted by Ater, Lividus, Ruber, & V View Post
    3. I'm not one for listing names, but you may want to check out Göran's blog and this video. http://english.cntv.cn/program/cultu...0/106877.shtml He names plenty of authors writing in Chinese in both places.
    Thanks for that link. Some Chinese writers I wasn't aware of (I wish I could understand his pronunciation more, can't get all the names). I think it's interesting how out of all of those writers he lists at one pont, Su Tong is the only one he actually really discusses. I've read some of his books, and in English he's kind of uneven (I read somewhere though that the translated version of The Boat to Redemption was based off of the second draft for some reason, so he could be a lot more consistent in the original). He was way too young when Mo Yan won (Su Tong's only 54 now) but he recently won the Moa Dun prize, the same award Mo Yan won soon before the Nobel. Assuming Malmqvist is still as enthusiastic about him, I'd say he has a shot.

    Some other things about China: Interesting how he doesn't mention Can Xue, Yan Lianke or Ma Jian. He definitely would've been aware of them in 2012...

    Also, not in the video, but I read somewhere that Malmqvist absolutely despises Liao Yiwu, and that Per Wästberg shares this dislike. He's been mentioned in the past as a potential laureate, but when you have the SA's only Chinese expert and his friend hating on you, I doubt that'll happen.

    And thanks for that write-up Isahoinp, really informative. Like ALRV, here's a note:

    Despite the Nobel page for Gabriela Mistral listing only 3 poetry collections before her win, wikipedia lists 7 (1 of which was a selection from older works). Not sure why the discrepancy.

    I have a feeling that after the debacle last year, some of the SA might want to award a perennial. I suppose if they wanted to continue using the award to broaden literature, Claudio Magris' mixtures of fiction and non are the most boundary pushing out of the names who come up every year. And they haven't given it to a playwright in a while. Jon Fosse is much more than just a playwright, but he's definitely best-known for his plays.
    Last edited by redheadshadz; 23-Jul-2017 at 18:25.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 Speculation

    I haven't read Jon Fosse. I plan on reading his 'Trilogy' for which he was recently awarded. Any other recommendations?

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 Speculation

    Also, Malmqvist is almost 95. Not sure how much he participates in SA deliberations anymore.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 Speculation

    Su Tong, Yu Hua, Wang Anyi, Han Shaogong, Li Rui, and Cao Naiqian. I have absolutely no idea what he said at 2:04-2:06. ("Everyone...everybody is equal, even enemies?")

    Yeah, you can look it up further, but he detests Yiwu.

    Read the one comment on this blog!

    http://michaelmartinday.blogspot.com...liao-yiwu.html

    Bloß made a good post about this on the other forum.

    http://w11.zetaboards.com/thefiction...857&t=11271133

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 Speculation

    "Morning and Evening" and "Melancholy" are also places I'd recommend. If you want to get into his plays (I don't like them as much as his novels, but can't deny their popularity) I liked "The Name" the best.

    As for Malmqvist, who knows. At 88 (when Mo Yan won) he was clearly still active, and as the sole sinologist in the academy, I'm sure his opinions about Asian writers hold some sway even if he's not as active as he was.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 Speculation

    I was aware of a new Nadas book to be published sometime this year, but all of the sites just said the release date was 2017 and I couldn't find it for sale online. So I assumed it hadn't come out yet. I'm still not sure if it has. I saw no mention of a book released last year.

    As far as Doris Lessing goes, that was an experiment she did to try and bring attention to the struggles of upcoming women writer she and how hard it is for them to get published. I don't really consider that the same as "Benjamin Black's" ongoing mystery series. Oates herself said outright that she used a pseudonym for different reasons than Lessing and that she was embarrassed by it. Though does anyone here truly think Oates' collected uneven output is Nobel-worthy regardless of pseudonyms?

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 Speculation

    Thanks for those last two names, couldn't get those and hadn't heard of them before. In one of those links from Bloß, it mentions Malmqvist has translated works by both of them into Chinese and cites them as examples of Malmqvist engaging with the work of non-state sponsored writers. Even more interesting is that the other 3 contemporary writers he mentions translating are Gao Xingjian, Bei Dao, and Shen Congwen. That is, in order, a nobel laureate, a perennial who was thought of as a likely Chinese winner before Xingjian, and a writer who reportedly made it to the short list in '88 and was favored to win until he died. He translated some Mo Yan novels, too. Wish I could find a more complete list of contemporary writers he's translated, might mean something or could just be a coincidence he singles those ones out.

    And it's honestly hilarious how much he hates Liao Yiwu.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 Speculation

    His blog and wiki page are pretty much the only bibliographies I know of. https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6ran_Malmqvist

    I believe this year is also Stridsberg's first time joining the discussion.

    edit: Yes, his hate is unbelievable. I especially relish how he name drops Olof Palme in that comment. Hilarious.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 Speculation

    Back when I looked up Mistral numerous sites called the 1938 publication her third collection of poetry. Looking at the Spanish Wikipedia page (her native language) I see 6 publications. One is an anthology of older works (not a new release) and a other is a series of educational writings meant to teach women how to use language and it was published by the department of education. So that's down to 4 publications.

    I think the Nobel site is correct in listing those three publications as her only actual new collections of poetry.

    The 4th publication is some sort of collection of poetry but I can't find any information on whether it's a compilation/anthology or something else.

    Either way. I'd say at best 4 actual original collections of poetry.

    There are discrepancies in the Nobel's bibliographies sections though. Winston Churchill published many speeches that aren't listed on his page.
    Last edited by Isahoinp; 23-Jul-2017 at 19:26.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 Speculation

    Thanks for this interesting and convincing piece of work Isahoinp. Another slight correction:

    Quote Originally Posted by Isahoinp View Post
    This “publication time rule” excludes a lot of authors generally named as “perennial candidates.” That’s just how it works though. Because of this, you can almost surely exclude: Philip Roth, Cees Nooteboom, Peter Nadas, etc
    Nooteboom did come up with new stuff in the last five years. In 2016 a collection of 33 poems titled Monniksoog was published and well received. Before that a diary and some occasional travel writing also appeared.

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    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 Speculation

    That's weird about the Nobel page. I wonder how accurate some of those pages are. I believe they list Gao Xingjian winning only for his novels, which always rang false with me since he had published only two of those whereas he had countless plays to his credit.

    Also, from one of those links in Bloß's comment:
    Whenever the need has Arisen, Malmqvist has written Extensive Letters to the Swedish press and to the Chinese Authorities, protesting against the treatment of dissidents like Wei Jingsheng魏京生, Liu Binyan劉賓雁, Fang Lizhi方勵之, Liu Xiaobo劉曉波and Ai Weiwei艾未未.

    Damn. "I've written letters protesting the treatment of dissidents before, just not for you Liao Yiwu."

    Also, just ordered a collection of Cai Naiquan's short stories. All the other writers Malmqvist lists other than those last two I've seen come up in Nobel discussions before, so I'm curious to see how Cai Naiquan and Li Rui write.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 Speculation

    Cool, let us know how you get on with him. Maybe review this one, too? https://www.amazon.com/Silver-City-L...0835959&sr=1-1 Or this one http://www.complete-review.com/reviews/china/lirui.htm

    That's a place or a made-up word, peter, right? Monniksoog? How is Nooteboom as a poet?
    Last edited by Ater, Lividus, Ruber, & V; 23-Jul-2017 at 20:00.

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