One-Minute Book Reviews

October 8, 2009

Late Night With Jan Harayda — Free Online Excerpts From the Books of 23 Nobel Prize-Winners

Filed under: News,Novels,Poetry — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 10:12 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Have you read so many novels by Mitch Albom and Stephenie Meyer that you’re losing the will to live? Go right now to the site for the Nobel Prize in literature, where you’ll find excerpts from the work of 23 writers of prose and 10 poets who have become laureates since 1926 (excluding Herta Müller, who won the 2009 prize today). The “Text Excerpts” section of the site is superbly organized, with all the selections listed and linked to on the same page, so you can start with any of them and, if doesn’t appeal to you, hit your back browser try another. If you like what you read, the Nobel site has more information about its author.

The Good News About Herta Müller’s Nobel Prize in Literature

Filed under: News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 11:07 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I haven’t read Herta Müller, a Romanian-born German who won the 2009 Nobel Prize in literature today. But the good news about the Swedish Academy’s announcement is that the award didn’t go to Bob Dylan (the 25-1 favorite a few days ago with bettors at the London odds-making firm of Ladbrokes). Writers, no need — yet — to start taking electric guitar lessons to boost your chances of winning the world’s most prestigious literary honor.

More comments on Müller and links to information about her work appear in yesterday’s posts.

October 7, 2009

Late Night With Jan Harayda — Why Amos Oz, Herta Müller or Philip Roth Could Win the Nobel Prize in Literature Tomorrow

Update at 10:20 a.m. Oct. 8, 2009:  Herta Müller has won the Nobel Prize. Here’s a link to the AP story on the award from Stockholm.

First, the Nobel Prize in literature does not honor “the world’s best writer.” The guidelines say that the award must go to a writer whose work has an “idealistic tendency,” or fosters the good of humanity. The Swedish Academy has interpreted that mandate broadly: It has often honored writers, such as Toni Morrison, who have spoken out against injustice rather than those whose work is uncritically altruistic.

Within that framework, here are a few reasons why the prize might go tomorrow to Amoz Oz, Philip Roth or Herta Müller, all ranked among the five most popular with bettors by the odds-maker Ladbrokes:

1. Amos Oz and Philip Roth: Both novelists have been considered strong candidates for years. In 2008 the Swedish Academy gave out the Nobel Prize in literature on Yom Kippur, when observant Jews do not work. And the judges could have faced accusations of religious insensitivity if they had honored Oz, an Israeli, or Roth, an American Jew, then, because the award would have forced the winner to choose between observing the holiday and giving interviews to the media (or even accepting a work-related phone call from Stockholm). Another factor that could favor Roth: Some critics believe that the Swedish Academy screwed the late John Updike — at the time of his death, the best all-around writer in the United States — perhaps because of anti-Americanism. I would not put it that strongly, in part because the Nobel Prize has always had a strong if unofficial geographic-distribution policy, which compels the judges to spread the awards out around the world. But I still hold the view that I expressed on this site before Updike died: “If Updike lived in Greenland, he would have had the Nobel Prize decades ago.”

2. Herta Müller: Müller is a Romanian-born resident of Germany whose work takes a “brutally honest look at life in communist Romania,” M.A. Orthofer wrote over at the Complete Review. And in recent decades,  the Swedish Academy has seemed to favor such uncompromising stances. Orthofer lists other reasons why Müller could win (and why she might not), all of them plausible, at the blog the Literary Saloon. Don’t miss his comments if you’re interested in the politics of the prize or if a victory by Müller leaves you shaking your head.

The Nobel Prize in literature will be announced in a live Webcast from Stockholm at 6 a.m. Eastern Time (11 a.m. GMT and 1 p.m. CET) on Thursday, October 8.

Oz, Müller, Oates, Roth and Pynchon are Bookies’ Favorites for 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature To Be Announced Tomorrow

Will the bookies have the last laugh on those of us would love to see an American poet like Richard Wilbur or Donald Hall win the 2009 Nobel Prize in literature? A few days ago, the London odds-making firm of Ladbrokes ranked Thomas Pynchon 12th among bettors’ favorites for the Nobel to be announced tomorrow in a live Webcast at 6 a.m. Eastern time. But Pynchon (7-1) has made last-minute surge into fifth place behind Amos Oz (3-1) of Israel; Herta Müller (3-1), a Romanian-born German, who has also moved up; and the Americans Joyce Carol Oates (5-1) and Philip Roth (5-1). Here’s a link to a list of the standings of all the candidates ranked by Ladbrokes as of 5 p.m. Eastern Time Wednesday. For more on the poets who may be in the running, see yesterday’s post “It Ain’t Me, Babe! Bob Dylan and Maya Angelou Lead Among American Poets in the Race for the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature, London Bookies Say.”

The Rubric Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 357 other followers

%d bloggers like this: