Very early on Thursday morning, the ever-inscrutable Swedish Academy will announce 2011’s Nobel Prize in Literature, which means, as every, that it’s time for the rest of us to commence nebulously worldly-sounding speculations about the literary merits and cultural relevance as adjudged by a globally conscientious but idiosyncratically Eurocentric room full of (hirsute and quite possibly pantsless) Swedes. By which I mean: here be the Ladbrokes odds for this year.
The Syrian poet Adonis has the shortest odds, as he has every year since I’ve starting checking; unlike last year, which saw an 11th-hour surge for Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the money hasn’t moved much this year except to reflect the rather set group of authors the larger public considers famous enough to place money on (Haruki Murakami, Bob Dylan).
Pretty much every year, I look at the current world political situation, and the makeup of recent winners—generation and gender, geographic region and language, prose or poetry or drama or nonfiction—and given these very specific coordinates invariably determine that a liberal Israeli author of prose fiction midway through his mature period, like Amos Oz or David Grossman, is “due” this year. Every year, I am wrong.
As ever, the Literary Salon at the Complete Review is your home base for speculations native and aggregated. At the Guardian‘s book blog, Richard Lea considers that between the Swedish Academy’s admission that women have historically been under-laureled, and current events, that “Surely in the year of the Arab Spring a woman author with roots in North Africa must be in with a strong shout.” (He suggests Algerian novelist Assia Djebar.) His reasoning makes so much sense that it can only mean one thing: 2011 will finally be Philip Roth’s year.
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