The Nobel Prize in Literature will be announced on Thursday, amid speculation in literary circles as to whether it will be given the spotlight to an overdue best-selling author or a relatively unknown one.
The Swedish Academy will announce their election at 13:00 (1100 GMT) in Stockholm. Last year, the renowned prize went to the British-Tanzanian author Abdulrazak Gurnah. American poet Louise Gluck won it the year before.
Literary critics and Nobel observers are split into two camps this year.
There are those who see the Academy’s past decisions as confirmation that it sees no need to crown renowned authors, particularly those who have already sold millions of books.
And then there are those who think it might be time to honor a writer who is known and loved around the world.
The 18-strong Swedish Academy is still recovering from a 2017-2018 #MeToo scandal that left it in tatters and the controversial award of the 2019 Nobel Prize to Austrian writer Peter Handke.
Famed — and reviled — for its male Eurocentric Nobel laureates, the revamped academy has since honored an American and a Zanzibar-born man whose work focuses on the plight of refugees and exile, colonialism and racism.
The jury has repeatedly emphasized that their award is not political, nor subject to gender or ethnic quotas, and insists that their sole criterion is the quality of an author’s work.
– ‘Common Name’ –
Nonetheless, “the academy is now very aware of its reputation for diversity and gender representation, in a very different way than before the 2017-2018 scandal,” said Bjorn Wiman, culture editor at Swedish reference newspaper Dagens Nyheter. said AFP.
“I think we can expect a better known name this year after last year’s surprise,” he said.
If the Academy did so, the prize could go to crowd-pleasers Haruki Murakami of Japan, Joyce Carol Oates and Cormac McCarthy of the US, and Canada’s Margaret Atwood, all of whom have been mentioned in Nobel speculation for years.
But after two well-received prizewinners, the academy might also dare a more polemical choice this time, with Frenchman Michel Houellebecq – known among other things for controversial statements on Islam – leading some betting sites this year.
Canadian Anne Carson was also popular with bookmakers, as was Salman Rushdie, the controversial British author of The Satanic Verses, who was the victim of an attempted assassination in August.
Another political choice related to the war in Ukraine would be Russian writer Lyudmila Ulitskaya, who lives in exile in Berlin and is a harsh critic of President Vladimir Putin.
Her name has been making regular rounds in Nobel speculation in recent years, as have Hungarian authors Peter Nadas and Laszlo Krasznahorkai, French novelists Annie Ernaux and Maryse Conde, Norwegians Jon Fosse and Karl Ove Knausgaard, Kenya’s Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Croatia’s Dubravka Ugresic, Americans Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo, Antiguan-American Jamaica Kincaid, and Israeli David Grossman.
– Time for Asia? –
Asia has not had a Nobel Prize winner since China’s Mo Yan 10 years ago.
Giving the prize to Yan Lianke – an astute observer of Chinese society who has been banned from some of his works in China – would anger Beijing, as would Lao Yiwu, known by his pen name Lao Wei and considered a “Chinese Solzhenitsyn”. “.
Her compatriot Can Xue is also considered worthy of the award.
Major western countries top the list of Nobel Prize winners in literature – France tops the rankings with 15 – while huge nations like China and India have just one each.
The Indian poet and novelist Vikram Seth is considered a possible winner.
The Swedish Academy has long been plagued by suspected leaks, but is notorious for its cloak-and-dagger methods of trying to keep its thoughts and preparatory Nobel papers under wraps.
His deliberations are also sealed for 50 years.
There is known to be a long list, which is reduced to a short list of five names throughout the year before the 18 members vote on a winner.
Following Thursday’s announcement, the Nobel season continues on Friday with the much-anticipated Peace Prize, the only Nobel Prize announced in Oslo.
Punters have hinted that this year’s price could raise alarms about the war in Ukraine or the climate.
The Business Prize concludes on Monday, October 10th.