Announcing The L Magazine’s First Annual Nobel Prize Pool

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10/01/2008 10:30 AM |

Sometime this month, the Swedish Academy will announce when this month it will announce the winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Literature. Because the British gamble on anything, Ladbrokes will begin taking bets tomorrow. You can see the opening odds here.

So, because speculation and betting on major literary prizes makes the world a better place, we’re going to have a pool, here at Claim your pick in the comments (no doubling up), and brag endlessly on the off chance that you correctly pick the winner as I did two years ago when Orhan Pamuk won.

My advice would be to peruse the list of recent winners, look at the geographic and gender distribution of the last decade or so of winners; the recent balance of novelists/poets/playwrights/essayists; take into account political activity (and contributions to world culture); and adjust for your own English-language bias.

Last year I thought incorrectly that the winner would come from the non-English-speaking world, likely be a poet or at least not primarily known for fiction, and not be one of the first names that comes into everybody’s head when they think of major living writers. I was not correct. (Though that is likely a winning strategy more years than not.)

My pick, this year, is Amos Oz (it’s time to get out of Europe; Oz is a liberal Israeli, so he’s politically relevant but not divisive). Sharon’s pick is Ian McEwan. Have at it.

12 Comment

  • Keith. Gessen.

  • You’ve got to like Les Murray, rough and tumble Aussie poet, at 10-1. Mainly because his speech would be filled with funny slang, and he’d throw up at the podium and then try to head butt Adonis (because in my mind it’s like the Academy Awards and there’s a splitscreen shot of all the writers as the award is announced) and then he’d waltz his matilda and didgeridoo the entire Swedish Navy.

    So, him.

  • Here’s my pick of wishful thinking: Inger Christensen, a prolific and highly lauded poet, essayist, and novelist from Denmark. She’s got 14/1 odds and isn’t, I dare say, the first person that comes to mind when people start listing their Great Living Authors, but a Scandinavian hasn’t won since Swedes Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson split the prize in 1974 (a Dane hasn’t won since Johannes V. Jensen in 1944) and in these fraught times of ours the steadying socialist perspectives of our Nordic brethren would be ever so pertinent.

    And hey, they Christiansen’s so beloved they paint her poetry on walls in Copenhagen. Observe:

    (And by the by, if McEwan wins, we’ll know the endtimes are upon us.)

  • WAG? Javier Marias or Victor Pelevin.

  • I go with Claudio Magris, not (just) because he has the best odds but because I figure 2008 is all (non-English-speaking) Western Europe’s.

  • I’m going to go out on a limb and call this one for DeLillo. I think the hubbub about a backlash against insular American authors is a ruse created to throw us off the scent. Kind of like Palin utterly botching a four-part interview with Katie Couric two days before only mostly-botching a debate.

    DeLillo is almost at old as John McCain, so the committee would be wise to just give him the damn thing before he kicks. They don’t want another “Oops, Nabokov’s dead, now we can’t give him the medal and the cash; watch him get drunk; and hear him snipe out every literary/academic/personal opponent in a wittily-veiled volley of demeaning and esoteric latinate insults.

    I know, I know, Roth is three years older than DeLillo, but Roth is more prolific and he’s written a few books that are, uh, pretty darned similar to one another.

    DeLillo by a nose.

    Or whatever.

  • did you guys know that rudyard kipling won the nobel??

    alice munro, goddammmit. just give it to her.

  • My pick is Haruki Murakami, the Japanese novelist. Besides being a wonderful writer, he fits in with Swedish Academy’s criteria.

  • As much as I’d like to see DeLillo pick this up (for “White Noise” alone), he’s too American, white and cynical. The Academy doesn’t seem to favor acerbic Anglos who are defiantly against the mainstream as much as they once did (Hemingway won long, long ago).

    Their recent choices have certainly exposed a proclivity towards minorities who emphasize the personal in the political; therefore, Amos Oz is a clever choice, Mark. I, however, can’t bring myself to pick him because it makes too much sense. I think they’re going to, shall I say, mix it up by naming a fluffier, yet still socially conscious, winner.

    And just as someone next to you ordering the meal you were eyeing on the menu since you sat down at the table, Mrinal Bose stole my initial selection. If I didn’t think Haruki Murakami was such a plausible choice, I would quickly change my mind. His widely-translated works, sense of magic, fanciful idealism, and ability to enthrall both academics and the public sound like a legitimate Nobel combo.

    That said, he’s one of my least favorite writers on the Oddsmaker list.

  • I’ll go ahead and wager a beer on PHILIP ROTH. First, there’s the whole fact that he’s supposed to win before he dies thing. Second, he’s pretty darn good at literature. Third, giving him the edge over somebody like DeLillo, despite the latter having a more European sounding name, Roth is far more cosmopolitan and has even introduced some European writers to American audiences.

    What are his odds, incidentally? My firewall here has ladbrokes specifically blocked. Go figure.

  • Great–so I come back in here to change my pick because I just realized that you cannot double up (therefore cancelling out Murakami), and someone snags Roth (Saul Bellow won roughly thirty years ago, so I think they’re ready for another NYC Jew).

    Oh, what the hell, I’ll go with Milan Kundera.

  • An idea I had last season was for a change in the points awarded.