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The 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature: Countdown!

By Susan Harris

News flash: The usually coy Swedish Academy has announced that the Nobel will be awarded Thursday. In the home stretch, Ladbrokes keeps Adonis and Tranströmer to win and place, while Murakami moves into show; Unibet has Murakami leading, with Adonis passing Vijay dan Detha into second and Les Murray breaking from the pack to move into third. The lively exchanges here last month and last week show support for all of the above, as well as others expected and otherwise. When we speculate about the winner, we're also betting on nation, language, and genre, and it's tempting to calculate the odds on the basis of past awards. The last poet to win was Poland's Wisława Szymborska in 1996; is it time for another? In that case, who's more likely: Adonis, who would be the first Arabic writer since Naguib Mahfouz in 1988 and the first Syrian to win a Nobel in any category, or Tranströmer, who would be the first Swede since 1974's dead heat between Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson? Can we assume that Mario Vargas Llosa's 2010 prize eliminates Latin Americans? Does that extend to all writers working in Spanish? So: keep those comments coming.

Published Oct 3, 2011   Copyright 2011 Susan Harris

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