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Nobel Prize Literature

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In less than twelve hours the Nobel Prize will be announced and as usual you will be the first ones to know.

This year there will be two laureates! Yes, quite so because you may remember that last year there were no awards. Those with a long memory may recall that there was an enormous scandal surrounding the Swedish Academy - there were accusations of fraud, rape, general improper handling of just about everything so it was decided that no literary prize be awarded. The event took place as usual, physics, medicine and economy prizes were awarded, only the literature was put on hold.

So, who will it be? One male and one female writer, not any Scandinavians because it would look bad, most probably from the English-speaking world. Not controversial people, no, there have been enough scandals already. I am absolutely clueless myself, but rest assured, your faithful Nobel reporter will let you know the minute it is announced.

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Thank you as always, Pamela, for providing us with the news hot off the press. I sort of lost track of the scandal after the immediate flurry of news reports.

Maybe two women after all?


The Russian novelist Lyudmila Ulitskaya, the Guadeloupean novelist Maryse Condé and The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood are all believed to be in contention for this year’s award, particularly after Anders Olsson, chair of the Nobel prize in literature committee, revealed how criteria this year have changed.

Given that the last two winners – Kazuo Ishiguro and Bob Dylan – both write in English and just 14 of the 114 literature laureates are women, Olsson acknowledged this week the need for the jury to “widen our perspective."


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So sorry about the mishap with spelling! It is Olga Tokarczuk, a Polish novelist who has written about Polish history and the history of the Jews.

Peter Handke has also written from a historic perspective.

So far I think that this was well received, at least by the literary panel on television who gave their views after the announcement.


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Woo Hoo! Olga Tokarczuk! 

I really enjoyed Flights, and Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead is the next book up in my TBR (to be read) pile. There's a good article about Tokarczuk and her work in a recent issue of The New Yorker: Olga Tokarczuk's Novels Against Nationalism.

There's more than a little controversy around Handke because of his friendship with Slobodan Milosevic. Handke delivered a eulogy at Milosevic's funeral, and said once in an interview that he considered him a "tragic" man. I think many people would consider that to be a rather generous assessment. 

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Handke has said a good deal worse than that - he once compared the Serbs to Jews during the Holocaust, although he did apologize for that one.

Interesting choices. Something for the old guard, something for the new. I'm sure nobody's more surprised than Handke himself, he probably wrote off his chances years ago.

When the child was a child,
Berries filled its hand as only berries do,
and do even now,
Fresh walnuts made its tongue raw,
and do even now,
it had, on every mountaintop,
the longing for a higher mountain yet,
and in every city,
the longing for an even greater city,
and that is still so,
It reached for cherries in topmost branches of trees
with an elation it still has today,
has a shyness in front of strangers,
and has that even now.
It awaited the first snow,
And waits that way even now.


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Kathleen, thank you so much for that magnificent article! I really enjoyed reading it. For myself, I am a bit doubtful if I will bother to read Handke (I have unfortunately much stress and strain in my life at the moment) but I will definitely read Tokarczuk whom I have read about but not by up to now. Also, which appeals a lot to me, she is a great defender of animal rights.

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