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Nobel Prize 2015
Topic Started: Aug 6 2015, 05:42 PM (23,209 Views)
redhead
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If it is, I wonder who would win next year? Maybe it's just my ignorance but after Alexievich's win what other women writers are out there that truly deserve the prize? Maryse Conde and Anne Carson just entered into discussions this year, and I don't know if I can see either of them so soon after Munro and Modiano. I wouldn't mind it going to some complete unknown who's amazing.
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Uemarasan
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What about Caryl Churchill? I'm not too familiar with her work because we hardly get any avant garde theater here across the pond, but she's been getting quite a bit of press lately thanks to a new production and her Neustadt nomination. I'm not sure if she qualifies as Nobel worthy? Though she seems to be in the same vein as Jelinek.
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Bjorn
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Bloß ein Língshān
Oct 16 2015, 07:23 PM
We know from this extract of Kjell Espmark's book that the Academy assesses potential laureates based on criteria conforming to a certain stage. Since the Nobel Twitter has made a fuss about women receiving the prize this year, I wonder if we're entering into an age of only women literature laureates.
Well, the Nobel twitter account is run by the Nobel foundation who (at least officially) has no more say in who gets the prize than I do. And I'm not sure if Espmark's article isn't more descriptive than prescriptive; times change, and literature and its prizes with them, but trends are always easier to see after the fact. That said, several members have expressed embarrassment that the prize's history is so overwhelmingly male and European, but that it's not like they can retroactively change that and the best thing they can do is, as Espmark says and as Wästberg says in the article I linked to upthread, try to be aware of their bias and work to overcome it.

So no, I don't think they're ever going to do a 20-year stretch of just women and/or people of colour to counterbalance the first 70 years. Even if they were to make equal distribution a goal, they'd look at what they're doing right now rather than what their predecessors were doing 120 years ago.

As for candidates if they did, though, I'd be thrilled to see some more recommendations. Mahaswata Devi might be in there. I wouldn't be surprised if Condé has been nominated a few times already. Adichie is way too young, as are NDiaye and Bouraoui (and Smith, if she ever gets her act together again). Someone mentioned Khoury-Ghata upthread? Based on the one novel of hers I've read, they could probably do worse. I haven't read el-Sadawi, but she seems to be picking up weight in the Swedish discussions, FWIW.

(Sidebar: There's always the issue, of course, that some of the most well-known of the current generation of expat African/Asian/Caribbean writers are, in terms of style and subject, largely the products of American/British/French literature. Part of the reason Ngugi always looks like the best African candidate is that he's always forced his own identity. I love the idea of diversity in literature, for both political and egoistic reasons because I don't want to read the same story over and over, but if everyone sounds like they came out of the same creative writing course at Columbia anyway...?)
Edited by Bjorn, Oct 17 2015, 04:23 AM.
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Didi
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Uemarasan
Oct 17 2015, 04:03 AM
What about Caryl Churchill? I'm not too familiar with her work because we hardly get any avant garde theater here across the pond, but she's been getting quite a bit of press lately thanks to a new production and her Neustadt nomination. I'm not sure if she qualifies as Nobel worthy? Though she seems to be in the same vein as Jelinek.
I would say yes.

re theatrical avant garde, I would want to include Cuban Maria Irene Fornes. However maybe not active enough in recent times for the Nobel.

and further on playwrights, I have been meaning to read Adrienne Kennedy's plays and this has prompted me to do so sooner than later.
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oneofmurphysbiscuits
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not in relation to Nobel, but recommending playwrights Bryony Lavery, debbie tucker green
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Uemarasan
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Thanks for some new names to explore! I'm not very well-versed in Anglophone drama, so these are a great help. With regard to the Japanese avant garde, I'd recommend Oriza Hirata, Minoru Betsuyaku, Juro Kara, and Shuji Terayama. In the other forums, I argued that Oriza Hirata should be as seriously considered as Jon Fosse for the Nobel, but I believe translation issues are always at the heart of these things. Shuji Terayama, for instance, is one of the greatest postwar artists ill-served by repeated focus on a handful of Japanese representatives.
Edited by Uemarasan, Oct 17 2015, 03:41 PM.
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oneofmurphysbiscuits
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Enda Walsh's work is brilliant as staged, but still to read, likewise the plays of Mark Ravenhill. Sarah Kane (be warned, her work is brutish)
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Uemarasan
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Ah, thank you for reminding me about Once, one of the few English language productions I did see in Broadway and very much enjoyed. And brutish sounds like a recommendation more than anything else ;) Thank you!
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Bloß ein Língshān
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redhead
Oct 16 2015, 08:22 PM
If it is, I wonder who would win next year? Maybe it's just my ignorance but after Alexievich's win what other women writers are out there that truly deserve the prize? Maryse Conde and Anne Carson just entered into discussions this year, and I don't know if I can see either of them so soon after Munro and Modiano. I wouldn't mind it going to some complete unknown who's amazing.
I'm sure if we were to cross-reference these lists, we'd come up with a panoply of names.

http://www.themodernnovel.org/my-lists/women/
https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/78755.Large_Experimental_Books_by_Women#1956230
https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/90194.Women_in_Translation#230514
https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/48067.Women_Around_the_World#230514
https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/78926.Europe_Minus_Men_and_English

Lots and lots of names. I'm not as savvy in living authors as I'd like, so...
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Uemarasan
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Now that Ugresic has won both the Neustadt and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature, I think this makes her a very strong future candidate to consider. The Nobel can be quite fickle, though. At times they'll choose the writer that hasn't won many international prizes (Mo Yan). Other times, they'll wait a very long time after the writer has been awarded major prizes (Lessing).
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DDR
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Uemarasan
Oct 26 2015, 04:32 PM
Now that Ugresic has won both the Neustadt and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature, I think this makes her a very strong future candidate to consider.
I think it's quite opposite. If you have a couple of this important prizes you are less likely to receive the Nobel. It's like those Swedes are always like "I saw this writer first so now I'm going to award him an make him famous thanks to my deep eye"
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Uemarasan
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DDR
Oct 26 2015, 06:24 PM
Uemarasan
Oct 26 2015, 04:32 PM
Now that Ugresic has won both the Neustadt and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature, I think this makes her a very strong future candidate to consider.
I think it's quite opposite. If you have a couple of this important prizes you are less likely to receive the Nobel. It's like those Swedes are always like "I saw this writer first so now I'm going to award him an make him famous thanks to my deep eye"
Haha, that's true. Most of the recent Nobel laureates seem to have won at most one of the major international prizes. As far as I know, those who have won two would include Vargas Llosa (Prince of Asturias Award, Peace Prize of the German Book Trade), Lessing (Austrian State Prize, Prince of Asturias), and Pinter (Franz Kafka Prize, Austrian State Prize). The others have one major international prize.

What's interesting is that both Chinese language laureates did not win any major international prizes (although Mo Yan won a regional Asian prize). This might even be extended to all recent Asian laureates (Oe). It's probably only Muller (Kleist? International IMPAC?), Le Clezio (Stig Dagerman?), and Kertesz (Welt-Literaturpreis? Herder?) who did not win a major prize (as opposed to arguably minor prizes?). This probably explains why Kadare, Roth, Murakami, Banville, and Magris (three awards each) will continue to be overlooked, if they are to be awarded in the future at all.

One thing is for certain: a major prize is a prerequisite to Nobel recognition, and that the Nobel committee does pay attention to the other prizes.
Edited by Uemarasan, Oct 27 2015, 12:35 AM.
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redhead
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Uemarasan
Oct 27 2015, 12:31 AM
DDR
Oct 26 2015, 06:24 PM
Uemarasan
Oct 26 2015, 04:32 PM
Now that Ugresic has won both the Neustadt and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature, I think this makes her a very strong future candidate to consider.
I think it's quite opposite. If you have a couple of this important prizes you are less likely to receive the Nobel. It's like those Swedes are always like "I saw this writer first so now I'm going to award him an make him famous thanks to my deep eye"
Haha, that's true. Most of the recent Nobel laureates seem to have won at most one of the major international prizes. As far as I know, those who have won two would include Vargas Llosa (Prince of Asturias Award, Peace Prize of the German Book Trade), Lessing (Austrian State Prize, Prince of Asturias), and Pinter (Franz Kafka Prize, Austrian State Prize). The others have one major international prize.

What's interesting is that both Chinese language laureates did not win any major international prizes (although Mo Yan won a regional Asian prize). This might even be extended to all recent Asian laureates (Oe). It's probably only Muller (Kleist? International IMPAC?), Le Clezio (Stig Dagerman?), and Kertesz (Welt-Literaturpreis? Herder?) who did not win a major prize (as opposed to arguably minor prizes?). This probably explains why Kadare, Roth, Murakami, Banville, and Magris (three awards each) will continue to be overlooked, if they are to be awarded in the future at all.

One thing is for certain: a major prize is a prerequisite to Nobel recognition, and that the Nobel committee does pay attention to the other prizes.
It raises the question of what a major award is and isn't, and I'm certainly not qualified to even try to decide. Almost all winners had racked up some prizes in their home countries, with the two obvious exceptions being Xingjian and Kertesz. Oe had practically won all the Japanese prizes he was eligible for before winning, and almost everyone else had racked up an impressive resume for domestic awards. In addition, both Oe and Mo Yan had been nominated for the Neustadt prior to their Nobel. They were definitely getting some international attention, but perhaps not winning the Neustadt helped them, like you guys said before, the Nobel likes to bring attention to lesser known writers hey find deserving.

That said, I wonder if the next Chinese winner will have won some big international prize. Mo Yan won right as Chinese writers were breaking through on the international level. Su Tong and Wang Anyi were nominated for the Man Booker International the year before his win, and since then Yan Lianke has also been nominated for it and won the Kafka Prize and Can Xue was nominated for the Neustadt, and I'm sure there are some I'm forgetting.
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Uemarasan
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I'm fairly certain that the main driving force behind Gao Xingjian's and Mo Yan's wins is Goran Malmqvist. He is their translator in Swedish, and as far as I know he is the only Sinologist in the academy. Once he relinquishes his seat, Liao Yiwu would have a very good chance. It's a little disturbing how much he shapes the academy's perception of Chinese literature.

Other Chinese writers in contention would include Jia Pingwa (Prix Femina Etranger), Bei Dao (Golden Wreath Awards, Neustadt nominee), and Duo Duo (Neustadt).

To be fair, though, the jurors who nominated Oe for the Neustadt were a Japanese critic and a Japanese poet, and the juror who nominated Mo Yan was Howard Goldblatt, so I'm not sure if Oe and Mo Yan were actually recognized internationally (or at least outside of Asia) before they won the Nobel.
Edited by Uemarasan, Oct 27 2015, 03:53 PM.
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redhead
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I feel conflicted about him. On the one hand, I really admire Xingjian and Mo Yan's work, and he has spoken well about some other Chinese writers I like a lot, but on the other hand, he has so much influence over Chinese writers. Given stories like how when Saramago's new novel came out one academy member sat down and went through it with a dictionary because a translation would not be out in time, I feel like it's not a stretch to say the other members probably don't double check his opinions. It's a real problem with Chinese literature, like Goldblatt and the many translations that come from his own.

The next Chinese winner could be Liao Yiwu, but I doubt it. In one of those articles, where Malmqvist talked shit about Yiwu, it was in an email to Per Wästberg, who agreed with him. Malmqvist may go soon, but I feel like his opinions will not.

And huh, you're right. I didn't realize Neustadt juror's each got to nominate a writer without much say from the others. I know Oe won the Europalia Prize (which I can barely find any info on, suggesting it's quite minor...) but it seems unless you had an interest in their countries' literature you probably didn't know much about them, if at all, before their wins, despite them both being huge in their respective countries (and arguably Asia). I would not mind the academy doing this sort of thing more.
Edited by redhead, Oct 27 2015, 04:21 PM.
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DDR
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What came a surprise when Mo Yan was awarded is that the prize didn't go to a Chinese dissident. We all know Swedish Academy being politically oriented for their decisions (although they swear they don't) trying to put eyes on injustice or situations that attempt against human dignity. More surprising the prize came a couple of years after Liu Xiaobo was a awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize. I know there are different prizes given by different committees and even countries, but still going under the same name and Alfred Nobel's will. Mo Yan didn't impress me at all after reading Garlic Ballads; to be honest it was quite a pain to even finish it. I'm sure there are better writers in that vast territory. Without knowing too much about it, I think next Chinese winner will be Can Xue. She checks all the boxes Academy wants in a writer. Göran Malmqvist is 91 years old so I don't think he'll be deciding next Chinese winner.
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redhead
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Mo Yan's one of my favorites, so I actually loved the award. But I think without Malmqvist there's no way it would've gone to him (although if you look at just his books, he does fit the Nobel profile).

I have to read more Can Xue before I make up my mind about her, but regardless of quality I'm not sure if she's enough of a dissident to win. I imagine they'd pick one if they return to China soon, sort of like when they gave it to Pasternak, then Sholokhov, and then Solzhenitsyn. Yan Lianke or Ma Jian might fit in better to that profile, but I haven't read The Last Lover yet, apparently a masterpiece, or her other pieces that critique Chinese society in dream-like ways, so I'll reserve my real judgment until after that.
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DDR
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You being an admirer of Mo Yan, if I want to give him another chance, what novel can't go wrong?
Edited by DDR, Oct 28 2015, 04:20 PM.
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Cleanthes
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If you liked either Pinocchio or The Golden Ass, then Life and Death Are Wearing Me Down is a sure thing, followed by his short story Shifu, You'll Do Anything for a Laugh.
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redhead
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I agree with Cleanthes. Life and Death... is the best of his I've read so far. There are some others I'd recommend (if you like Calvino or similar writers, The Republic of Wine might be good) but if you want to give Mo Yan another try I'd say just stick with L&D... and if you like that move on to others. L&D... is probably his most universally acclaimed.
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