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byrd is the wyrd
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Sep 6 2014, 05:33 AM
Sep 5 2014, 06:40 PM
Cartarescu is clearly one of the favourites - but I relatively recently read his poetry and was not overtly impressed - I think he needs to bring out another great novel to win this.
Well, Orbitor is only getting released in English now, so (sadly) as far as much of the world is concerned, it's a brand-new great novel. I do agree that he probably still has greatness ahead off him, though, so there's no real hurry.

Hwang would be great, agreed.

The only pattern I see is the long (now) line of established writers. TT might not have been well known, but among 'punters' his name was always raised, and barely anyone complained. Llosa, TT, Mo Yan and Munro are "shruggable" writers, writers you see winning and shrug and think: "oh, sure, yeah, that makes sense."

Well, among the more well-read, absolutely - some people are still going to go "Who?", but then again, they do that with any writer who's not Stephen King. And there was complaining when TT got it, not to mention Mo Yan, for various reasons - though you're right, few of them actually made the "NOBODY has ever heard of this guy" complaint. But that's partly precisely because people have started discussing the Nobel so extensively that it's almost impossible to give it to an author who hasn't been mentioned by at least ten experts, and I do still think there's a difference in mainstream popularity between, say, Munro and Müller, and some people definitely saw Munro's prize as pandering to a larger audience. (Of course, whether the Academy gives a rat's ass about popularity is doubtful, but I do think the days of the prize going to someone that not even those who take an active interest in it have at least heard mentioned are over.)
The problem with giving the Nobel to nonshruggable writers is that you might end up with a list of winners in 30 years time whose work doesn't really stand the test of time and you think who the hell is X? And how come Pynchon, Joyce (insert favourite neglected writer here ) etc... never won when they were clearly better than X?

Winning the Nobel has the opportunity to raise a lesser-known writer's profile, but i don't think that picking lesser-known authors should be the panel's primary concern. That would make the Nobel seem like a hipster prize for literary geeks.
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Nobel Prize 2014 · General discussion