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Nobel Prize 2015
Topic Started: Aug 6 2015, 05:42 PM (23,235 Views)
Bloß ein Língshān
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Hey Clean, did you read Pinocchio in Italian or French or Spanish or English? I've been meaning to reread it, since I was super young when I first did so, and not sure which version/translator.

@DDR, maybe I'll read L&D with you... just don't read the retched (wretched) puke that is Big Breasts and Wide Hips (in English).
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DDR
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Hope it's way better than The Garlic Ballads. Number of pages is almost double and I had a lot of problems to finish it.
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Cleanthes
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Oct 28 2015, 06:48 PM
Hey Clean, did you read Pinocchio in Italian or French or Spanish or English? I've been meaning to reread it, since I was super young when I first did so, and not sure which version/translator.

@DDR, maybe I'll read L&D with you... just don't read the retched (wretched) puke that is Big Breasts and Wide Hips (in English).
All of 'em. I've been a big fan of Pinocchio since I read Coover's further adventures of professor Pinocchio. The NYRB translation is fun, specially page 15.
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~~! Well, NYRB it shall be. Many thanks.
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redhead
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Flipping through David Marr's biography of Patrick White, I came across a section detailing the Nobel prize process for him.

According to Marr, Artur Lundkvist took a seat in the academy in 68 in order help secure the prize for 3 writers: Pablo Neruda, Patrick White, and Vincente Aleixandre (also later helped Claude Simon net it and prevented Graham Greene from taking it home). This resulted in the three of them getting on to the shortlist in 69. It's unclear if White was on the short list in all years until 73, but by that year Lundkvist felt like if White didn't get it that year he never would (so I guess the academy could hypothetically move past a perennial candidate after 5 or so years). That year's shortlist was Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, and Nadine Gordimer. It sounds like only 4 or so academy members were able to read The Eye of the Storm before voting on the prize; I wonder how often that's happened, where not everyone can read some of a writer's works and instead just rely on the opinion of a few members (I have a feeling that definitely happened with Xingjian and Mo Yan). The runner up was Bellow, and they were actually in a deadlock before Harry Martinson decided to give it to White in order to give Australia it's first prize, confirming what we all thought and the academy denies: geography does matter.

It sounds like this information was taken from some of Lundkvist's notes and letters, so I'm inclined to believe it (though we'll have to wait a few years before it can be confirmed). I thought the shortlist was especially interesting, already considering Gordimer or Soyinka who had yet written the works they're most famous for, and thank god they didn't give it to Mailer.
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I'm still confused about Wole. His plays suck. His prospectus on the Nobel website cites his plays as the motivating work for the prize, yet he's categorized in the list of authors as a novelist and poet. What am I to read from this man?
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redhead
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In the press release they give special mention to the plays Death and the King's Horseman, A Dance of Forests, and A Play of Giants, along with some of his poetry and essays. Considering they have Gao Xingjian just listed as a prose writer, I wouldn't take those categories too seriously.

(also, bopping around the Nobel site, I saw for Le Clezio that the books they gave most mention to were, aside from Desert, Revolutions and The African. Has anyone read those ones?)
Edited by redhead, Nov 28 2015, 02:04 PM.
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Yeah, his work is difficult to translate because of its poetic simplicity, like Le Petit Prince or Catcher in the Rye. Revolutions is probably the best of the three, but I don't think it's in English.

HOWEVER, you should certainly go for his earlier work, which is in English. Start with Giants, please!
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Bjorn
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Nov 27 2015, 03:57 PM
I'm still confused about Wole. His plays suck. His prospectus on the Nobel website cites his plays as the motivating work for the prize, yet he's categorized in the list of authors as a novelist and poet. What am I to read from this man?
The only work of Soyinka's I've read is Aké, which I quite liked.

I have Le Clézio's Revolutions sitting unread; I keep meaning to get around to it, since I really liked the books of his I read after he got the prize, but so far it just hasn't jumped up and forced me to read it. But it's worth it, then?
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redhead
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I have dipped a bit into Le Clezio. Desert was a bore but I really enjoyed The Interrogation (and judging from reviews, I am one of the few who enjoys it in English). Good to hear his other nouveau roman works are worth reading, I'll definitely check Giants out.
Edited by redhead, Nov 29 2015, 11:37 AM.
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@Bjorn, which books of his did you read? He has two distinctive stages in his career, so someone who likes the former might not enjoy the latter. Revolutions is nominally a parallel bildungsroman. A young adolescent growing up in contemporary times who learns about his great-grandfather, the chapters switching viewpoints. It has a panoply of his favored topoi: nature, a lost paradise, the wickedness of man, the ennui of academy, war, national identity, pop culture, nautical adventures, food, childhood. It's ambitious, messy, at times pandering, and I doubt you'll go away from it changed for life, but it's a fun, enjoyable read.

@redhead, yeah, if you like Interrogation, you'll like Giants. (I read a first-edition hardcover from the library, and, not being familiar with the recently-printed paperbacks/English, perhaps you should do the same because mine had transparent pages, fold-out ones, varying fonts, and more.) Basically everything of his in the Gallimard L'Imaginaire is great - but Fever can be skipped. That collection is fantastic for finding experimental, forward-thinking literature, by the way. http://www.gallimard.fr/searchinternet/advanced?collection=496&SearchAction=1#/searchinternet/advanced/(sauthors)/J.+M.+G.+Le+Cl%C3%A9zio?collection=496&SearchAction=OK

Considering you like the sentences of Oe and Simon and the the ideas of Bellow, I recommend you check out a book I mentioned before, Yaakov Shabtai's Past Continuous. You'll love it.
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Bjorn
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Nov 29 2015, 11:58 AM
@Bjorn, which books of his did you read? He has two distinctive stages in his career, so someone who likes the former might not enjoy the latter. Revolutions is nominally a parallel bildungsroman. A young adolescent growing up in contemporary times who learns about his great-grandfather, the chapters switching viewpoints. It has a panoply of his favored topoi: nature, a lost paradise, the wickedness of man, the ennui of academy, war, national identity, pop culture, nautical adventures, food, childhood. It's ambitious, messy, at times pandering, and I doubt you'll go away from it changed for life, but it's a fun, enjoyable read.
I've read books from both his eras, specifically Terra Amata and Raga and ... some other book I can't think of just now. I probably preferred Terra Amata for its innovativeness, but there was something in the measured mythtelling of the latter that I really liked too.
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redhead
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Bloß ein Língshān
Nov 29 2015, 11:58 AM
@redhead, yeah, if you like Interrogation, you'll like Giants. (I read a first-edition hardcover from the library, and, not being familiar with the recently-printed paperbacks/English, perhaps you should do the same because mine had transparent pages, fold-out ones, varying fonts, and more.) Basically everything of his in the Gallimard L'Imaginaire is great - but Fever can be skipped. That collection is fantastic for finding experimental, forward-thinking literature, by the way. http://www.gallimard.fr/searchinternet/advanced?collection=496&SearchAction=1#/searchinternet/advanced/(sauthors)/J.+M.+G.+Le+Cl%C3%A9zio?collection=496&SearchAction=OK

Considering you like the sentences of Oe and Simon and the the ideas of Bellow, I recommend you check out a book I mentioned before, Yaakov Shabtai's Past Continuous. You'll love it.
Thanks for the recs, Shabtai sounds right up my alley and early Le Clezio definitely interests me. Unfortunately, it seems like despite many of them getting translated into English, his Nobel win did little to raise their profile, with the exception of The Interrogation. What did you think of some of his other early works, like Book of Flights, War and Fever?
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His essays and travel memoirs, like Raga, are different from the other fictional work he wrote during that time, unfortunately. If you liked Terra Amata, you might as well keep up with the nouveau roman phase. Though, since you own Revolutions, I'd say give it a shot. It's not as mythic, but it is dyed with sadness and nostalgia: those are common themes of myths!

Fever is a short-story collection. Not the biggest fan, but the writing is strong. The ludic typography/addressing his readers/experimental techniques aren't present, however (if I recall). Flood has a bizarrely boring beginning, which he tends to do almost as a 'yes, i am intelligent, i shall show my acuity and how well i write, conforming to your standards, then i'll write how i deign, and this will be my shield.' Looking back, the structure of the novel, with that introduction, is meant to be a hot tidal wave, with the deluge of emotions hitting you at the end, when you figure out what's happened (not that it isn't too difficult to guess). Terra Amata is super fun; there's even a portion written in sign language. I have War, Voyages de l'autre côté, and Flights waiting on the shelves.
Edited by Bloß ein Língshān, Nov 30 2015, 11:14 AM.
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Bjorn
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Here's Alexievich's Nobel lecture.

Also, Swedish daily SvD picks 16 candidates for the 2025 prize.
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redhead
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If Cartarescu wins in 2025, I'll be surprised... because I would've guessed he would get it earlier than that.

A few others I've already seen mentioned already as possibilities down the road (Ndiaye, Tokarczuk, Kausgaard (though I think Fosse will beat him to the punch and then the academy won't go back to Norway for a while)), the English authors seem like odd choices based on reputations and the little I've read of them but I suppose they could rally (Franzen would be an interesting pick just for all the salt it would create), and Houellebecq...that's not going to happen anytime soon, if ever. The others are enigmas to me.
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Or they could award both Fosse and Knausgĺrd in the same year! (insert eye roll). I'm looking forward to seeing Alexievich's and the rest of the laureates' diplomas. That's always a highlight.
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Oct 8 2015, 12:30 AM
yeah! it's one of the books that the appellation 'neglected masterpiece' unquestionably is veracious. from the kaleidoscopic cast, to the pastoral descriptions, to the rendering the Torah pliable (how Agnon's able to weave quotes upon quotes on every page yet it all fit the story), to the teetering of telenovela but having the tact to know when enough is enough, to the allegory of the mongrel Balak (for whom the French version was named after, since he's so scene stealy), to the breadth and chewiness of the novel and its end results (rather than finishing a big book and feeling the time wasted, you -are- going to leave with something). can't say I was bewitched the entire time - some tachyon would have been welcome - but yeah, great book. Reading it in Hebrew must be incredible, though the translation in English is purportedly magnificent. If you haven't started reading it, I recommend you skip the introduction and consider it an afterword. (I also have a fifty-page essay by Avraham Holtz on the translation and the book, should you want to read it.)

per agnon thread
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Thank you very much, Didi. I'm surprised you were able to find it. The forum has been bugging, and google has even made it difficult to search. :facepalm:
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Cleanthes
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Others have been noticing the crapification of Google:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16153840
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