Tuesday, October 7, 2014

'Tis the Season to Bet on Nobel...

Long-time readers of this blog will no doubt remember the stir created last year by rumors that Haruki Murakami might win the Nobel Prize in Literature, which I reported on here.  With the announcement of this year's prize just days away, once again there is a fair amount of buzz about the same thing. On September 30, the Wall Street Journal published an article by Brenda Cronin, who writes that, "guessing who will win the Nobel Prize in literature is an exercise skimpy on data and heavy on gossip and guesswork. But that hasn’t stopped handicappers from making a book on the contest." UK bookmaker Ladbrokes says that the odds on Murakami are five-to-one. 

The article also includes this amusing illustration, portraying this year's frontrunners in the literary Nobel race: left to right, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Haruki Murakami, Joyce Carol Oates, Salman Rushdie and Philip Roth.

You can read the whole article here.

The Guardian -- which quotes the odds as being 4:1 -- also published a piece about Murakami's Nobel chances.  Author Alison Flood mentions Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o as the other favorite, but the rest of her list differs from the one quoted by the Wall Street Journal: it includes Belarussian journalist Svetlana Alexievich, Syrian poet Adonis, French writer Patrick Modiano, Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse, and Austrian author Peter Handke.  Only American author Philip Roth is on both lists. You can read the article here.

It would of course be exciting for us, his translators, if Haruki Murakami were to win the prize. At the same time, I feel that part of his charm is that he is the perpetual "outsider," and as a Nobel Prize winner that would cease, and he would instead become the ultimate "insider," enshrined forever in the world's literary pantheon.

You can watch the Nobel Prize announcement on Thursday, October 9 at 1 pm (CET) or 7 am (EST) here.

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