Awardfest 2013: Literary Edition

Saturday October 5, 2013

By Guide Biography: Patrick Kennedy

Do you need a little suspense in your life, what with the end of Breaking Bad and the Yankees not making the playoffs? If so, never fear; literary awards season is here! In the U.S., we have the National Book Awards; in the U.K., the Booker Prize. And on the international scene, we have the Nobel Prize in Literature. This one is like the World Cup of writing prizes. Yeah, it's that important.

Since the Nobel is going to be announced very soon (early or mid October, that is), the Nobel is going to be our focus here. Do you have any predictions for the winner, any writers you really, really want to win? But before you get carried away, a few ground rules. To begin, any published writer in the world is eligible for the Nobel. Broad field, right? Um, not quite. After all, the Nobel is picked by human beings with tastes and quirks of their own. It's widely believed that the current Nobel committee has a distaste for American writers (sorry, Philip Roth). And even though Latin American writers like Isabel Allende and Paulo Coehlo are international bestsellers, they've never been presented as serious Nobel possibilities (sorry, latter-day magical realists).

Now that we've established all this, let's look at the contenders. For 2013, the oddsmakers are putting forward Japan's Haruki Murakami as favored to win. He was also favored in 2012, but that year's Nobel went to China's Mo Yan. It might be time to go with another well-rated yet well-know author (Amos Os, Milan Kundera, Salman Rushdie). Or maybe go with a younger writer who's racked up other literary awards. Per Petterson, for instance, is one of the memorable recent winners of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Is the Nobel his logical next step?

The suspense is on. What are your predictions for this year's Nobel? Who will join Thomas Mann, Samuel Beckett, Albert Camus, and Gabriel García Márquez in the ranks of Nobel laureates. And if your author doesn't win, don't fret. Tolstoy, Proust, and Kafka didn't win Nobels either.


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