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Nobel Prize 2014
Topic Started: Sep 3 2014, 11:26 PM (7,401 Views)
nnyhav
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Maintaining our annual tradition of boundless groundless speculation ...
MAO summarizes the current state of play (scrolldown, direct link unstable) (a la Magnus Puke?), lotsa links (of which I'll lift http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/sep/03/ngugi-wa-thiong-o-tipped-nobel-prize-literature-2014 esp since http://archipelagobooks.org/honoring-ngugi-wa-thiongo-at-archipelagos-10th-anniversary-gala/ ...I'm thinking him & Assia Djebar the best bets both at 10/1) (also, otherforum speculation is up around 200 posts ...)

My sentimental favorites? Cartarescu & Pynchon both at 25/1 (Krasznahorkai not listed)

(had to edit link)
Edited by nnyhav, Sep 4 2014, 11:44 AM.
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Didi
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Ali Ahmad Said Asbar (Adonis) would be my guess, speculating on what the academy may be thinking,
Yet I hope it’s an author/poet from the Netherlands that finally get this prize..wait, I said this about the world cup as well…
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Bjorn
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I read Djebar (Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade) for the first time this summer, and while I liked the book, I'm not sure I thought it Nobel-worthy. Of course that's just one book, and semi-autobiographical to boot, so it may not be entirely representative - has anyone read anything else of hers?

But my list, like Ladbrokes', remains roughly the same as last year, according to the principle of a broken clock being right once a day:
- Ngugi
- Alexievich
- Pynchon (it seems unlikely with two North Americans in a row, but I just bet myself 20 bucks that he'll win, so his chances just increased tenfold)

For those who think such things matter, Krasznahorkai is finally being published in Swedish this year (right in time for the Nobel announcement, too) and Ngugi is having something of a renaissance with new editions of The River Between, A Grain of Wheat and Devil on the Cross. Cartarescu got a pretty big push last year, being guest of honour at the Gothenburg book fair and all, which theoretically could raise his chances.
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byrd
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If Bleeding Edge had been a masterwork and really addressed the implications of the dark web (BBC2 had a documentary on it last night, so Pynchon could have been the sage ahead of the curve), then i'd say Pynchon should get it.

But BE wasn't a masterwork, so he won't.

Having said that, now he will get it.

But having said that, now he won't...

etc...
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Funhouse
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Well, A Million Windows is fresh in my mind so I'll mention Gerald Murnane as usual. He peaked in the Ladbrokes odds about four or five years ago, but he's been on quite a tear since Barley Patch (and he apparently has two more books finished that Giramondo, his publisher, are sitting on to space them out more), and I think his stock is as high as it has ever been. He's been fairly widely translated into Swedish and apparently has a following there, so if there were to be the first Australian since Patrick White in 1973 receive it he would have to be the lead candidate. He's also getting on in years. The most likely after Murnane would be David Malouf (also a venerable age) I'd say.

Here's a left field suggestion that I've never seen come up before: what do people think about Art Spiegelman? Graphic novelists never seem to get mentioned in the mix of novelists/playwrights/poets, but if one were to get the nod it would have to be Spiegelman wouldn't it?

Murakami has also been prolific lately and he's been at the top of the odds for a few years. That doesn't mean he's at the top of the Academy's list, of course, but I wouldn't be surprised if he got it.

Salman Rushdie hasn't knocked one out of the park for a while and Joseph Anton got pretty bad reviews, but I could also see him getting it at some point. Maybe not this year. (He's also fresh in my mind after seeing him speak last week.)
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Elie
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Funhouse
Sep 4 2014, 07:43 AM
Here's a left field suggestion that I've never seen come up before: what do people think about Art Spiegelman? Graphic novelists never seem to get mentioned in the mix of novelists/playwrights/poets, but if one were to get the nod it would have to be Spiegelman wouldn't it?
I'd not thought about graphic novelists before having only got into them recently. I've not read Art Spiegelman (yet) but do you think Joe Sacco would be worth a shout?
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Bjorn
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Funhouse
Sep 4 2014, 07:43 AM
Here's a left field suggestion that I've never seen come up before: what do people think about Art Spiegelman? Graphic novelists never seem to get mentioned in the mix of novelists/playwrights/poets, but if one were to get the nod it would have to be Spiegelman wouldn't it?
That's a fun idea. I'm not sure if the older members of the Academy would even consider him, but he's certainly closer to "established" literature than, say, Dylan, and I agree that he's one of very few graphic novelists who could qualify. (I honestly can't come up with anyone else. Satrapi?) I wonder if it'd hurt his chances that the vast majority of readers think he only ever wrote Maus?

My own growing dissatisfaction with Murakami aside, IMO by now he falls into the category of writers who don't need the Nobel, along with Roth, Oates and that lot. Giving it to them is a no-win situation for the Academy since it'll just look like caving to pressure, plus they're already widely read and arguably more well-known for not getting the prize. They hardly need the cash, either. (That said, there are certainly worse choices on the "Why can't they ever give it to someone I've heard of" list. I know for a fact that there are journalists in Sweden who are sure that Coelho has already got it.)

Trying to find patterns is always tricky, but I wonder if they feel that giving it to Munro last year gives them carte blanche to go with someone with less established mainstream appeal this year. Coetzee was followed by Jelinek, Lessing by Le Clézio, Vargas Llosa by Tranströmer...

Speaking of Alexievich, though, I just got my hands on the brand-spanking new Swedish translation of Zinky Boys. If she does get it, her Swedish publisher probably deserves a cut - does anyone know if her books are getting republished in English at all? I know several of them have been published at some point, but Voices From Chernobyl seems to be the only that's been in print this millennium?
Edited by Bjorn, Sep 4 2014, 08:41 AM.
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Funhouse
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If we're talking graphic novels I'd say that Spiegelman is head and shoulders above any other candidate. I like Sacco's work a lot, but I don't think it has the literary qualities for the Nobel. Satrapi's done some nice stuff, but overall she's too lightweight. Someone like Alan Moore, perhaps, has the breadth of work, but I can't see them considering anyone who has done a lot of work for mainstream comics and too much of his work is pastiche. The same applies to Grant Morrison/Frank Miller/Neil Gaiman (Gaiman also has his novels, of course, but again they're too lightweight).
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Elie
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I'd better get him read soon, then. We've got Maus so I have no real excuse.
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orlando
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I wonder if the state of the world at present will have any role to play.
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nnyhav
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Rather than arguing from merit I'm going to try to narrow the field of the Ladbroke list:
1) I don't think they'll opt for another Anglophone this year (that knocks off a third of them).
2) I also think that the chances for the hardy perennials are overstated: It's not a people's choice award people, it's a matter of attracting betting action. So no Murakami, Kundera, Eco, and goes double (with 1) for Oates, Roth, Pynchon ...
3) The 50/1 longshots are filling the field, not seriously in the running (which makes for a trifecta for Rushdie & McCarthy, ntm Dylan).(a shame, Nooteboom & Marias dismissed that way, less so Handke)

So with less than half a list left, down to individual cases, in roughly order of decreasing confidence:
Alexievich's nonfiction however strong hasn't been a category the Nobels have recognized for ages.
Farah's probably trumped by his fellow Africans.
Remarkable paucity of names from Western Europe, but I don't think Da(r)cia Maraini's in the running,
Scandinavia still too fresh, so no Jon Fosse.
Tony's point I think points away from Adonis & Oz this time round.

So what's left?
Nadas? Cartarescu? Lobo Antunes? possible but not likely ...
Bei Dao? Ko Un? a little less unlikely.
And so, best bets, Djebar or Thiong'o. But I'm sure the Committee will expose the flaw in my reasoning.

(It's kind of interesting that worthies Kadare & Bonnefoy [& Goytisolo (Juan)] have dropped off the list this year ... oh,yeah, last year's odds)
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Heteronym
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In my dream world: Milan Kundera, Philip Roth, Pepetela, António Lobo Antunes, Adam Zagajewski, Ferreira Gullar...
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Didi
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Per Nobel’s will “one part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction…it is my express wish that in awarding the prizes no consideration be given to the nationality of the candidates, but that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be Scandinavian or not."

What did he mean by “work” or “ideal” ?

“Does "work" mean something equivalent to the German Gesamtwerk, or the French oeuvre - life's work? Or the Latin magnum opus - master-work? And need the "work" in question be un-equivocally literary? It manifestly was not in the case of Winston Churchill in 1953 (writer of one potboiling Ruritanian romance), or Bertrand Russell in 1950 (author of one inferior volume of detective stories). It was their respective efforts against fascism, and in the post-war peace movement, that earned them the world's premier literary award. There has been also been keen debate in the English-speaking world as to how the key adjective should be glossed; in the original Swedish the word "idealisk" translates as either "idealistic" or "ideal".”

Per: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2007/oct/13/featuresreviews.guardianreview31

An old gripe on nationalities - I have always found it baffling that no-one from Brazil, Argentina, Netherlands et al , no one born in the Middle East (excl. Lessing) no-one from the sub-continent since 1913 etc. etc. has won the award.

Edit: I adore the Indian sense of humour:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/mocktale/Indian-wins-Nobel-Prize-writers-go-nuts/articleshow/41189947.cms

Edited by Didi, Sep 4 2014, 11:13 PM.
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param
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Sep 4 2014, 08:29 PM
Yes, seen this. Amish Tripathi probably have overtaken Chetan Bhagat with his 'Shiva-trilogy' in popularity. The new virus of 'Book-bucket Challenge' in facebook, had more Amish Tripathi books in the Top 10 lists. I have thus far resisted the recommendations from the 'well-read' with 10 books under their belt telling me what I miss by not reading 'Shiva trilogy' and '5 mistakes'.

On a serious note, I do not see any one from India getting this in the near future. It's my personal opinion that most of the Indian-English writing is shallow and superficial and the regional language writing ( Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil for example where the literary scene is more vibrant) lack from quality translation to English.
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Didi
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param
Sep 4 2014, 11:58 PM
Didi
Sep 4 2014, 08:29 PM
Yes, seen this. Amish Tripathi probably have overtaken Chetan Bhagat with his 'Shiva-trilogy' in popularity. The new virus of 'Book-bucket Challenge' in facebook, had more Amish Tripathi books in the Top 10 lists. I have thus far resisted the recommendations from the 'well-read' with 10 books under their belt telling me what I miss by not reading 'Shiva trilogy' and '5 mistakes'.

On a serious note, I do not see any one from India getting this in the near future. It's my personal opinion that most of the Indian-English writing is shallow and superficial and the regional language writing ( Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil for example where the literary scene is more vibrant) lack from quality translation to English.
U.R. Ananthamurthy came to mind a couple of months ago as a possibility but unfortunately that cannot occur now. Nevertheless it would be great to see a Jnanpith Award recipient get the Nobel someday.
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Bjorn
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param
Sep 4 2014, 11:58 PM
Didi
Sep 4 2014, 08:29 PM
Yes, seen this. Amish Tripathi probably have overtaken Chetan Bhagat with his 'Shiva-trilogy' in popularity. The new virus of 'Book-bucket Challenge' in facebook, had more Amish Tripathi books in the Top 10 lists. I have thus far resisted the recommendations from the 'well-read' with 10 books under their belt telling me what I miss by not reading 'Shiva trilogy' and '5 mistakes'.

On a serious note, I do not see any one from India getting this in the near future. It's my personal opinion that most of the Indian-English writing is shallow and superficial and the regional language writing ( Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil for example where the literary scene is more vibrant) lack from quality translation to English.
Mahaswata Devi seems to come up once a year, only to languish in the backwater and be forgotten again until next year. But she has been translated into Swedish (not extensively, but very well), and would certainly fit the "idealistic" part of the prize as I understand it... But the odds of them picking two short-story writers in a row are rather high.

Other recent translations/retranslations into Swedish: Both Nooteboom and Kadare. By the same fine publisher that's currently pumping out Ngugi rereleases, so they seem to be hedging their bets.
Edited by Bjorn, Sep 5 2014, 02:37 AM.
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param
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Bjorn
Sep 5 2014, 02:35 AM
param
Sep 4 2014, 11:58 PM
Didi
Sep 4 2014, 08:29 PM
Yes, seen this. Amish Tripathi probably have overtaken Chetan Bhagat with his 'Shiva-trilogy' in popularity. The new virus of 'Book-bucket Challenge' in facebook, had more Amish Tripathi books in the Top 10 lists. I have thus far resisted the recommendations from the 'well-read' with 10 books under their belt telling me what I miss by not reading 'Shiva trilogy' and '5 mistakes'.

On a serious note, I do not see any one from India getting this in the near future. It's my personal opinion that most of the Indian-English writing is shallow and superficial and the regional language writing ( Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil for example where the literary scene is more vibrant) lack from quality translation to English.
Mahaswata Devi seems to come up once a year, only to languish in the backwater and be forgotten again until next year. But she has been translated into Swedish (not extensively, but very well), and would certainly fit the "idealistic" part of the prize as I understand it... But the odds of them picking two short-story writers in a row are rather high.

Other recent translations/retranslations into Swedish: Both Nooteboom and Kadare. By the same fine publisher that's currently pumping out Ngugi rereleases, so they seem to be hedging their bets.
Mahaswethadevi is probably an exception. She is not strictly a short story writer with large body of works in both Novel and short story. She probably is one of the better ( in terms of quantity) translated Bengali writers. If there is one pick, it could be her.

U R Ananthamurhty,while active in the scene, did not have any major publications in the recent years. His master pieces 'Samskara' or 'Bharatiputra' are written way back in the sixties/seventies. Now that he is no more, no further dwelling is required.
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Bjorn
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If we were to look at Africa and the MIddle East, who else is there apart from the mainstays (Ngugi, Djebar, Farah, Adonis, etc)? People have been having this discussion since Soyinka won, and the last prize did go to someone who's not as young as she once was... is there anyone in the next generation who might come into question yet? Just to toss a few names out there:

Nina Bouraoui (47) - I quite liked Tomboy, she's very consciously transgressive, with feet in lots of different identities (Plus, giving it to a gay biracial woman will please the loudmouths on both sides.)
Alain Mabanckou (48) - clever, funny and widely read, but probably not quite weighty enough, based on the ones I've read
Calixthe Beyala (53) - like Bouraoui (and the far too young Ngozi Adichie), blurring the line between "African" and "cosmopolitan". Not widely translated, though.
Véronique Tadjo (59) - loved Queen Pokou, wasn't quite as impressed by Far From My Father
Amin Maalouf (65) - combines fiction and non-fiction, would appeal to Eco fans, and the more people read The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, the better

But I'm sure I'm missing a bunch?
Edited by Bjorn, Sep 5 2014, 09:20 AM.
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Didi
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The prolific Ibrahim al-Koni from Libya, but more so the much less prolific Hushang Ebtehaj (HE Sayeh) from Iran (I thoroughly enjoyed The Art of Stepping Through Time - a very important Persian poet.)
Edited by Didi, Sep 5 2014, 07:05 AM.
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Cleanthes
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I'd like to mention Portuguese novelist Lidia Jorge as a Nobel-worthy writer.

The Renaudot Prize is a great guide to good recent francophone fiction. It has acknowledged key figures like Annie Ernaux (1984) and Rene Depestre (1988).

Since 2000 it has been rewarding consistently interesting writers:
Ahmadou Kouruma for his masterpiece Allah n'est pas oblige
The aforementioned Nina Bouraoui and Alain Mabanckou
Scholastique Mukasonga for her first novel Our Lady of the Nile, despite the fact that it was not among the novels shortlisted for consideration by the jury! It will be available in English translation this month.
Emmanuel Carrere for his excellent Limonov
Philippe Claudel, writer and movie director
Irene Nemirovsky for her Suite Francaise
Martine Le Coz author of original, religiously themed fiction
Frederic Beigbeder, lucky dude married to supermodel Lara Micheli
Virginie Despentes, author of 'interesting' books like Apocalypse Baby and Bye-bye Blondie.
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