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Topic: The Nobel Prize for Literature

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Subject: The Nobel Prize for Literature
Date Posted: 10/9/2010 10:56 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
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The winner is: Mario Vargas Llosa - http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/

Llosa has written several historical books, so I was wondering if anyone has ready any of them. The one I'm most interested in trying is "The Way to Paradise"; anyone read it? I'd also like to try "The War of the End of the World", but I'll have to wishlist it and wait my turn, drat it. There are other copies of "The Way to Paradise" available for request, as well as copies of several of his other works.

Llosa seems like an interesting person whose led an adventurous sort of life, that's for sure. He's been very active in politics and even ran for President in Peru. His books cover just about every genre; from the magical realism that Latin America does so well to social satire, political farce, fantasy, and even one that sounds like it most resembles a thriller. He's definitely written a book for every reader!

I like to try at least one book by the authors that win these important prizes and it looks like I'll have plenty of good books to choose from by this writer. I've already requested "The Way to Paradise". :-)

Last Edited on: 10/9/10 11:03 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/9/2010 11:03 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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Is there an American author that you think deserves a Nobel? I'm just curious. The head of the Nobel Lit committee said in an interview recently that "American authors don't participate in the big dialogue if literature". I guess that means we shouldn't expect an American author to win a Nobel any time soon. ;-)

That led me to try thinking of American authors who do write about global themes. Who would you nominate for a Nobel? No, I don't think Chadwick and Cornwell will qualify, although maybe we think they should! LOL!

Last Edited on: 10/9/10 11:04 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/10/2010 8:09 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
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Writers who pop into my mind right off the bat are James Michener, James Clavell, Chris Bohjalian and Joseph Heller.

Date Posted: 10/10/2010 8:18 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
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I've not read him, but I think that there is a strong argument for Jonathan Franzen.

Date Posted: 10/11/2010 11:37 AM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
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This one is hard.  I looked at the list, to see which Americans have won the award in the past.  Only 7 that I could see, since 1901:

Sinclair Lewis, Eugene O'Neill, Pearl S. Buck, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck and Toni Morrison.   

Franzen needs a few more decades under his belt, IMHO.  

The Wikipedia article was very interesting.  It says, " the Prize is now awarded both for lasting literary merit and for evidence of consistent idealism on some significant level. In recent years, this means a kind of idealism championing human rights on a broad scale. Hence the award is now arguably more political."

I'm having a hard time thinking of authors that would fit this category, myself.  


Date Posted: 10/12/2010 2:47 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2009
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 It says, " the Prize is now awarded both for lasting literary...   Key words here are "is now".  Seems like they changed the rules a bit.  I don't think John Galsworthy won in 1932 for "consistent idealism" and "championing human rights".   :P   But those caveats narrow the field considerably.    Off-hand I would think someone like Philip Roth or Joyce Carol Oates.  Both are prolific, but I'm not sure they fit the bill.  So I scoured my brain for newer, maybe leser-known authors that might win in time and I think Barbara Kingsolver stands high on the list (she won the coveted British Orange Prize for fiction this year, beating (dare I say it?) Wolf Hall to some teeth-grinding and tantrum-throwing of the Brits), and maybe Edwidge Danticat, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Edward P. Jones.

Date Posted: 10/13/2010 11:35 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
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I'd totally agree with Edward P.Jones and I think he would fit the new rules very nicely. I do think it's a bit of a shame that they have changed the rules and made this prize more political instead of awarding the very best of literature, but I also think it's great that they award those who use their art to point out human injustice. I just wonder if their political views will cause them to disregard a lot of great literature and since the Nobel winner always becomes mass produced, translated, and shipped across the world, we, the readers, could be missing out on great books. Not that I have a problem with people other than Americans winning! I'm not so stupid to think that we are the only ones producing great literature. This is just a fun "Who should win?" exercise. ;-)


I've seen Roth, Oates, and McCarthy mentioned a lot, but none of them would fit into the new requirements, though I feel any of the 3 are at least as deserving as some of the others who have won over the years. I could see Franzen being worthy of it after he has a larger body of work to judge, but he still wouldn't be political enough, I don't think. All of these writers write about things human beings care about and even though they aren't writing about human rights abuses, it doesn't mean that what they have to say doesn't speak to people across the world.

I doubt Roth will ever win because he said something really snarky about the Nobel recently. He probably doomed himself forever and ever, lol.

How about Pynchon, DeLillo??? I would have liked to see Updike win before he died.

Date Posted: 10/25/2010 10:49 AM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2009
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When a week ago, I picked up A Farewell to Arms to read for the Classics Challenge on the back cover it says:  "Ernest Hemingway did more to change the style of English prose than any other writer in the 20th century, and for his efforts he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954."  Which speaks to your point, Valli, that authors are no longer being given credit through the Nobel for great literature.  The Nobel Prize might shift back one day to its former standard or something entirely different,  but I doubt in our generation or as long as human rights abuse is an issue and they are able to use the Nobel Prize to bring attention to it.  Yet there are many other prizes out there that acknowledge great writing and writers, thank goodness!  :)

I like your choice of Delillo and Pynchon, especially Delillo.   They are great American writers and thinkers, tuned in to the human psyche of our modern world, and in my opinion they do "participate in the big dialogue of literature" only the Nobel committee is setting the rules of what that dialogue should be.  So sadly, I doubt Nobel is ready to appreciate them.

Thanks, Valli, this was an interesting and thoughful exercise.