October 10, 2013
Canadian writer Alice Munro has won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Munro, 82, has written over a dozen short story collections in her career. Most of her stories–composed in a mode of psychological realism reminiscent of 19th-century modernism—focus on the lives of people in a small rural pocket of Canada. Munro’s stories appear with an almost-alarming ubiquity, popping up every year in the big anthologies and the best magazines (Jonathan Franzen’s 2004 claim that “outside of Canada, where her books are No. 1 best sellers, she has never had a large readership” strikes me as odd).
For an appreciative and comprehensive look at her work, take a look at this guide at The Millions. For a contrarian take on Munro, read Christian Lorentzen’s essay in The LRB.
Or, better yet, make your own informed opinion by reading some of her stories:
“Boys and Girls”
“The Bear Came Over the Mountain”
October 11, 2012
Chinese author Mo Yan has won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature, who, according to the committee, “with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary.”
From Nobel’s biography:
“As a twelve-year-old during the Cultural Revolution he left school to work, first in agriculture, later in a factory. In 1976 he joined the People’s Liberation Army and during this time began to study literature and write. His first short story was published in a literary journal in 1981. His breakthrough came a few years later with the novella Touming de hong luobo (1986, published in French as Le radis de cristal1993).”
You can read an interview with Mo Yan at Granta.
Here’s a Time profile of the author.
And another profile at China Through a Lens.
October 4, 2011
Via The New Yorker’s Book Bench blog, current odds (and yeah, we know, they change) from Ladbrokes for the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature (the oddsmaker’s name is Magnus Puke, by the by).
Adonis (Syria): 4/1
Tomas Tranströmer (Sweden): 7/1
Haruki Murakami (Japan): 8/1
Bob Dylan (U.S.): 10/1
Assia Djebar (Algeria): 12/1
Peter Nadas (Hungary): 12/1
Ko Un (South Korea): 14/1
Les Murray (Australia): 16/1
Thomas Pynchon (U.S.): 20/1
Philip Roth (U.S.): 20/1
Nuruddin Farah (Somalia): 20/1
While it’s easy to dismiss literary competitions as trifling or even crass, they do much—particularly high profile ones like the Nobel or the Pulitzer—to augment the readership of these authors, cement the winner’s canonical place, and expose the winner to a larger audience. They also help writers get paid better, which is a good thing.
The odds don’t really mean that much of course—this time last year, Cormac McCarthy was the favorite with an 8:1 lead.
October 7, 2010
The BBC and other sources report that Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa has won the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature. He is the first South American to win the Nobel in lit since Gabriel García Márquez won in 1982.
According to the Nobel website, the prize was awarded to Mario Vargas Llosa “for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat.”