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Nobel Literature Prize Speculation: Annie Ernaux


Myshkin
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On 10/8/2021 at 3:35 PM, sologdin said:

do they have some sort of policy or custom to avoid consecutive wins from adjacent states, or something? 

Considering they awarded a German and a Polish writer in 2019, no. However, they seem to have a rule of awarding people from outside Europe and the Anglosphere once a decade.

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  • 11 months later...

September 23 was the day last year this thread was rebooted so it must be time to do it this year. :)

Who do knowledgeable people think is in the running this year? Since they gave the prize to an African writer last year, would this be the year to go for Asia? So is Dương Thu Hương a good guess this year? Anyone know of an obscure Asian author who could be a dark horse beating out Hu'o'ng like Gurnah beat out Ngugi last year? 

The only Latin American woman who's won was Chliean poet Gabriela Mistral back in 1945.  Any chance for a Latin American woman prose fiction author this year? Would Isabel Allende or Carmen Boullosa have any chance with the Swedish academy? 

P.S. After posting the above I saw that there is a major push for them to give the Nobel to Salman Rushdie this year in response to the knife attack on him. Will the Nobel judges pay attention to that, or will they have a negative reaction to being pressured? 

Edited by Ormond
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  • 2 weeks later...

Okay, so Thursday’s the day. And I’ve got no clue. I’d hope they’d finally give it to Rushdie, but they won’t. Same for Kundera, Pynchon, DeLillo, Ngugi.

Two notable names have died in the past month, Javier Marias and Hillary Mantel, but I believe the rule is they can still be awarded so long as they were on the shortlist before their death. Neither of them was likely on the shortlist however.

I don’t know why, but I feel like this year they’ll go with an Asian writer. Duong Thu Huong would be great, so would Hwang Sok-yong, but my money’s on a Chinese author. So Can Xue, Yan Lianke, or Yu Hua.

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It’s so random. This award is no longer given to writers who consistently come to the public eye for quality works for entire decades. So when Bob Dylan won the Nobel literature prize back in 2016 for his entire body of lyrics, well… I stopped caring about this one and I never regretted it. Nothing against Bob Dylan. But I’m sure there’s a LOT of other prizes he was worthy of winning while not taking away from writers like Rushdie for example or Ngozi Adichie or Murakami. 
 

Anyway curious to see who they come up with this time.

Just wanted to add that I do hope they don’t give it to some politician. One Winston Churchill was enough. 

Edited by TormundsWoman
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I too remember being a bit nonplussed by Dylan's win but, on reflection, once you delve into his lyrics and listen/read to the quality he has put out over decades, it seems to me a perfectly deserved win.

I'd be happy for the prize to be awarded to Rushdie or Ngugi. Or course, my true wish is McCarthy wins it, but exceedingly unlikely.

I cannot truly connect with Chinese writers. Mo Yan and Gao Xingjiang are both writers I have been through out of obligation rather than anything else. I believe that is due to an inherent difficulty translating Chinese to English (I cannot read pinyin); more gets lost than in other translations making the translated work inferior to the original.

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4 hours ago, Winterfell is Burning said:

I bet on random European writer barely anyone ever heard and/or seriously considered to win the Nobel of to win this year.

So the eighth best writer in France. Who, incidentally, is the odds on favorite every year.

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So Ladbrokes top 10 are:

Salman Rushdie (8/1)

Michel Houellebecq (12/1)

Cormac McCarthy (14/1)

Ann Carson (16/1)

Edna O’Brian (16/1)

Jon Fosse (16/1)

Ngugi wa Thiong’o (16/1)

Pierre Michon (16/1)

And four at 20/1: Annie Ernaux, Garielle Lutz, Haruki Murakami, and Laszlo Krasznahorkai 

Also, they continue to spell Don DeLillo’s (25/1) name wrong (DeLilo)

Another also, Unibet has Houellebecq as the odds on favorite. Shit’s gonna get wild if he actually wins

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A few hours to go, so here are my thoughts:

My favored pick: Salman Rushdie 

My best guess: Yan Lianke 

Left field pick: Patrick Chamoiseau 

I’m completely wrong and the actual winner is obviously: Pierre Michon

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I would bet they are deliberately going to be giving this prize to at least 50% women for a while.

I had heard of Annie Ernaux but never read anything by her.

I am not sure that an author who "consistently comes to the public  eye for quality works for entire decades" should be the criteria for awarding a Nobel. As an award that attemtps to pick a winner from all living published authors on the entire planet, I would think there actually must be scores of authors out there every year whose body of work is of high enough quality to deserve a Nobel. If I was on the committee, I would be tempted to give the award to authors who I believed had published "quality works for entire decades" but who had NOT yet come much into "the public eye", precisely to get them recognition they deserve but haven't gotten yet. It could be argued that people like Kundera, Pynchon, and Rushdie don't need Nobel Prizes to cement their literary reputations for posterity in the way that Abdulrazak Gurnah or Annie Ernaux might. 

SInce I haven't read works by either of them, it's fine with me if those who have want to argue that Gurnah and Ernaux really didn't deserve it. But I don't think being more "obscure" should be a disqualification for consideration for the prize.

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Posted (edited)

I’ve got nothing against obscure writers winning the Nobel. If they hadn’t won the Prize I’d have probably never read Müller or Jelinek, and I was pleased with the Gurnah selection (other than the fact it means Ngugi will never win). It’s the SA’s predilection for indistinguishable French authors that I find boring. I’ve read some excerpts of Ernaux’s stuff, and she’s a very fine writer. But she is, like Modiano and Le Clezio before her, the human embodiment of staring out a Parisian window at dusk while smoking a Gauloises. I hate to say it since he’s a complete piece of shit, but Houellebecq is a far more interesting author than any of them.

Edited by Myshkin
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2 hours ago, Ormond said:

I am not sure that an author who "consistently comes to the public  eye for quality works for entire decades" should be the criteria for awarding a Nobel. As an award that attemtps to pick a winner from all living published authors on the entire planet, I would think there actually must be scores of authors out there every year whose body of work is of high enough quality to deserve a Nobel. If I was on the committee, I would be tempted to give the award to authors who I believed had published "quality works for entire decades" but who had NOT yet come much into "the public eye", precisely to get them recognition they deserve but haven't gotten yet. It could be argued that people like Kundera, Pynchon, and Rushdie don't need Nobel Prizes to cement their literary reputations for posterity in the way that Abdulrazak Gurnah or Annie Ernaux might.

Now, now Ormond! Why you do this to me?! Why didn't you quote me so I can see the disagreement properly?! :D

To understand why I said that, you have to know that I learned the first time about the Nobel Prize when I read my first Sienkiewicz novel. I was a kid, probably in 4th grade looking for something in lines of Paul Feval, or Dumas pere but found this Polish turn of the century dude who wrote about history from my corner of the world (see, I was not born in US). So after reading his whole trilogy With Fire and Sword, The Deluge and Pan Wolodyjowki, someone told me I was reading a Nobel Prize winner so I asked what's that prize for. The teacher said it's for outstanding body of work by a writer who contributed with his literary stuff to improvement of mankind. Or something very similar because it stuck with me. Clearly, not an obscure literary figure or body of work. I was too young then to search what in fact is the guideline for awarding these prizes, plus there was no internet back then, but when I grew older I did look it up. And while guidelines are always changing, I can tell you that even today if I am not mistaken, for literary prizes that's pretty much their stated guideline.

I do understand that it is just a guideline, but that's how I still viewed it until I lost interest in who is winning it.

 

Interesting someone mentioned Muller. I read one book of hers and while I don't remember anything else about it, I do remember the poplars that were lining the big boulevards back home. It was a book about the Ceausescu regime before it's fall and life during those years but I only know that because that is the reason I bought it. Otherwise, completely forgettable writing, because in my opinion there are other Romanian writers who did it much, much better. That's if you refer to Herta Muller.

Again, literature is subjective. So clearly different strokes for different folks.

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I'm not against them picking not well known writers, but seems like today being well-known automatically disqualifies one for the award.

The list of great and acclaimed 20th century writers that never won the Nobel Prize is bigger and better than of the ones that won, and seems like they'll keep the tradition in the 21st.

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22 hours ago, TormundsWoman said:

Now, now Ormond! Why you do this to me?! Why didn't you quote me so I can see the disagreement properly?! :D

To understand why I said that, you have to know that I learned the first time about the Nobel Prize when I read my first Sienkiewicz novel. I was a kid, probably in 4th grade looking for something in lines of Paul Feval, or Dumas pere but found this Polish turn of the century dude who wrote about history from my corner of the world (see, I was not born in US). So after reading his whole trilogy With Fire and Sword, The Deluge and Pan Wolodyjowki, someone told me I was reading a Nobel Prize winner so I asked what's that prize for. The teacher said it's for outstanding body of work by a writer who contributed with his literary stuff to improvement of mankind. Or something very similar because it stuck with me. Clearly, not an obscure literary figure or body of work. I was too young then to search what in fact is the guideline for awarding these prizes, plus there was no internet back then, but when I grew older I did look it up. And while guidelines are always changing, I can tell you that even today if I am not mistaken, for literary prizes that's pretty much their stated guideline.

I do understand that it is just a guideline, but that's how I still viewed it until I lost interest in who is winning it.

 

Interesting someone mentioned Muller. I read one book of hers and while I don't remember anything else about it, I do remember the poplars that were lining the big boulevards back home. It was a book about the Ceausescu regime before it's fall and life during those years but I only know that because that is the reason I bought it. Otherwise, completely forgettable writing, because in my opinion there are other Romanian writers who did it much, much better. That's if you refer to Herta Muller.

Again, literature is subjective. So clearly different strokes for different folks.

Nobel's will said all the prizes should go to someone whose work has "given the greatest benefit to mankind", and that the literature prize should go to the person who's produced "the most outstanding work in an ideal direction." 

Those criteria are rather vague and how they've been interpreted has indeed varied over the years. Nobody really seems to know what Nobel meant by "ideal direction."  I guess that personally I don't see "give the greatest benefit to mankind" as restricting the prize to someone who is already well-known to the general public. Almost all of the winners of the science prizes are not well-known to the general public, but only to experts in their field. So it doesn't bother me that winners of the literary prize should only be well-known to experts on literature before they win the prize. Authors could have "benefited mankind" by starting a new creative literary style or inspiring other authors without most people, even in their home country, having ever heard of them. 

Edited by Ormond
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On 10/7/2022 at 12:04 PM, Ormond said:

Nobel's will said all the prizes should go to someone whose work has "given the greatest benefit to mankind", and that the literature prize should go to the person who's produced "the most outstanding work in an ideal direction."

I stand corrected! Thank you, never realized there was a specific thing added for literary prizes and I must admit the last time I actively looked was 2016 because of Bob Dylan. That said, that was the moment I read Virginia Woolf was snubbed over Pearl Buck at some point. You probably know who the she is, but I had to google Ms. Buck in order to find out who she was and what she wrote. I am sure she influenced literature, after all The Good Earth received a Pulitzer. But I am less sure her contribution is greater than Woolf's though, fact that contributed to my returning to literary prizes that are awarded for single works. I think these tend to be easier to judge side by side.

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On 10/11/2022 at 10:47 PM, TormundsWoman said:

I stand corrected! Thank you, never realized there was a specific thing added for literary prizes and I must admit the last time I actively looked was 2016 because of Bob Dylan. That said, that was the moment I read Virginia Woolf was snubbed over Pearl Buck at some point. You probably know who the she is, but I had to google Ms. Buck in order to find out who she was and what she wrote. I am sure she influenced literature, after all The Good Earth received a Pulitzer. But I am less sure her contribution is greater than Woolf's though, fact that contributed to my returning to literary prizes that are awarded for single works. I think these tend to be easier to judge side by side.

Like I said, the list of great writers that didn't get the award is a lot bigger than the ones that did. Hell, even Tolstoy- Tolstoy! was alive during the first ten years of the prize and didn't win

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