This yr’s Nobel Literature Prize subject is huge open forward of Thursday’s announcement, with literary circles abuzz about whether or not the nod will go to one more controversial choose or a crowd-pleaser.
Names tossed about within the hypothesis embody Caribbean-American writer Jamaica Kincaid, Canadian poet Anne Carson, Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Hungary’s Peter Nadas and American novelist Thomas Pynchon.
The Swedish Academy’s choice to honour Austrian novelist Peter Handke final yr unleashed a flood of criticism, leaving many questioning the way it may crown a author recognized for supporting Serbian chief Slobodan Milosevic within the Balkan wars and denying the extent of Serbian terror.
However the 18-member Academy, which defended its alternative as one based mostly solely on literary advantage, is not any stranger to controversy.
Its eyebrow-raising choose of US rock legend Bob Dylan in 2016 was adopted by a rape scandal near its members that erupted in 2017 and tore the Academy aside, forcing it to postpone the 2018 prize — a primary in 70 years.
The Academy was revamped, and its Nobel committee was required by the Nobel Basis that manages the prizes to absorb 5 exterior specialists to assist vet candidates for the literature prize deliberations in 2019 and 2020.
Two of the exterior specialists stop after final yr’s prize bulletins nonetheless, lamenting that their views weren’t taken under consideration.
– What would Alfred Nobel say? –
The tradition editor of Sweden’s greatest day by day Bjorn Wiman referred to as the selection of Handke “terribly dangerous”, including: “If the Academy is aware of what is sweet for them, they’ll select Jamaica Kincaid” this yr.
Writing about themes like colonialism, racism and gender, “her stance on numerous ethical and political points are completely price listening to at present”, he informed AFP.
She “is precisely the kind of individual that takes the prize within the idealistic path that prize founder Alfred Nobel spoke of” in his will creating the prizes, Wiman stated.
Nevertheless, if final yr’s alternative is something to go by, the Academy might also “mud off some outdated candidate” from years in the past, “the identical manner they did with Handke”.
If that had been to be the case, authors comparable to Peter Nadas of Hungary, Albania’s Ismael Kadare and Romania’s Mircea Cartarescu may obtain the nod.
Madelaine Levy, literature critic at day by day Svenska Dagbladet, agreed Kincaid could possibly be a possible winner, calling her an “unbelievably musical author who’s straightforward to like”.
However an Academy that selected Handke could possibly be extra inclined to go along with somebody like France’s Michel Houellebecq, she prompt.
“He’s the identical kind of author, with a dismal view of latest Europe and a really destructive view of mankind, the place man is such a failure… and from that create nice literature about man’s weak spot and ugliness.”
Levy’s most popular alternative can be American writer Joan Didion, who “began a sort of societal however very politically-interested and pop culture-interested essay type that could be very energetic at present.”
– Academy’s ‘mysterious methods’ –
Canadian poet Anne Carson is seen as a scorching tip this yr, in addition to “common suspects” Joyce Carol Oates and Marilynn Robinson of the US, Israel’s David Grossman, Canada’s Margaret Atwood and South Korean poet Ko Un.
Punters are in the meantime placing their cash on French Guadeloupean author Maryse Conde, with 5-to-1 odds, simply forward of Russian novelist Lyudmila Ulitskaya at 6-to-1 and Japan’s Haruki Murakami and Margaret Atwood at 7-to-1, in response to betting website Ladbrokes.
Former editor Svante Weyler stated British author Hilary Mantel — not often talked about in Nobel circles — may win “for combining an especially sharp mental depiction with a really public attraction.
“She has not solely made the historic novel acceptable, she has made it the main style in world literature,” Weyler informed AFP.
However the Swedish Academy usually shuns bestselling mainstream authors, opting to shine its highlight on lesser-known names.
“If you happen to’re sitting on all this prize cash to award, and you’ve got all this consideration that you could bestow, then after all you may suppose … that it’s extra enjoyable to offer it to somebody who’s not already within the limelight,” Levy stated.
And on the finish of the day, she famous, “virtually all international locations have some unbelievably sturdy writers worthy of a Nobel prize. The record of writers who’re so extremely good that they’re at Nobel prize degree is lengthy, a number of hundred I’d say.”
“The Academy has stunned everybody many, many instances. They work in mysterious methods,” she concluded.
© Agence France-Presse