Today, Thursday, in Stockholm, the name of the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, which is considered the most prestigious among literary prizes, will be announced, amid expectations that this year will go to Asia or Africa, in fulfillment of a promise that has not yet been fulfilled to expand its horizons after it was historically very Western.
Literary lovers and publishers all over the world are interested to know the identity of the winner of this prestigious award, which is unveiled at around 11:00 GMT in the palace where the Swedish Academy is based.
To avoid leaks, academy members adopt spy novel-like techniques, using code names for authors and fake covers for books that jury members read in public.
However, defining the stereotype of who will receive the award has always been an easy task, as it is common to be a man, who belongs to the West and often to Europe, whose books are not among the bestsellers, and is often relatively obscure, who writes or translates his books into a language he reads Stockholm Academy members.
Of the 117 winners in the literature category since the awarding of the Nobel Prizes began, the number of Europeans or North Americans has reached 95, or more than 80 percent, and France alone has received 13 percent of the prizes. The number of men on this list is 101, compared to only 16 women.
The jury members constantly asserted that nationalities did not matter to them.
But after a “MeToo” scandal rocked the academy in 2018 that led to a rare postponement of the Nobel Prizes, he announced a revamp of its approach by moving toward greater diversity in species and continents.
“Before, we had a perspective of literature focused on Europe, but now we look all over the world,” Nobel Committee Chairman Anders Olsson said in the fall of 2019.
Since then, the specifications have been partly respected, with Polish novelist Olga Tokarczuk receiving a retrospective of 2018 and little-known American poet Louise Gluck last year, while one man, Austrian Peter Handke, won the prize.
Since China’s Mo Yan won in 2012, only writers from Europe or North America have been crowned, and rather boldness has been manifested in genre, as the award was given to singer, poet and composer Bob Dylan in 2016.
However, there is competition from writers from other continents this year, and among the most prominent names in circulation are Kenyan Ngogi wa Thiongu, Indian Vikram Seth, Chinese Yan Lianke and Liao Yiwu, Somali Noureddin Farah, Mozambican Mia Koto or even Nigerian Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, according to what critics have reported. France Press agency.
Speaking to The New Republic this week, Anders Olsson stressed that “literary merit” is “the absolute and only criterion.”
Among those who are also nominated and have never won the award, the Japanese Haruki Murakami and the Syrian Adonis, do they have a chance this year?
And the seventeenth winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature could become one of a group of names to be presented again, including Americans Joyce Carol Oates and Joan Didion, Canadian Anne Carson, Russia’s Ludmila Ulitskaya, China’s Kan Chiu, France’s Marie Condé and Annie Ernault and the mysterious Italian Elena Ferrante (a pseudonym).
The Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyhater wondered whether the Nobel Prize for Literature would witness an “awakening” based on the new standards of progressivism, or would the Academy continue its approach, ignoring the times?
“I hope for a big surprise, which would make the whole thing more interesting,” said Matts Almagard, literary critic for Focus magazine. If they do exactly what is expected, the award will lose its luster.”
It is likely that the winner will be a European, such as the Romanian Mircea Cartarescu or the Frenchman Michel Houellebecq, who is widely considered to be eligible for the Nobel Prize, but it may raise widespread controversy.
Other critics polled by AFP saw chances of victory for Canada’s Margaret Atwood, Hungarian Peter Nadach or Norway’s Jon Vosse.
Of the approximately 200 to 300 nominations submitted annually to the Academy, five are selected before the summer. The members of the jury read it carefully and confidentially in preparation for the final selection shortly before the announcement. The deliberations are kept secret for 50 years.
The Nobel season continues on Friday, when the name of the Peace Prize winner will be announced in Oslo, while Monday will conclude with the announcement of the Economics Nobel.
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