Media Buzz With Possible Nobel Lit Winner
By Matt Moore
Oct 13 2005
STOCKHOLM, Sweden – A Turkish writer facing prison and a Syrian poet
were mentioned as favorites Wednesday to win the 2005 Nobel Prize
for literature even as a dispute brewed over last year’s winner,
an Austrian feminist.
Trying to divine the winner has often proved futile. The Swedish
Academy will not even say who it has considered, much less who has been
nominated for the prize, which this year will be awarded on Thursday.
But Swedish media was buzzing with names like Adonis, whose real name
is Ali Ahmad Said, who now lives in Paris. One betting Web site even
gave him the best odds, ahead of Americans Joyce Carol Oates and
Philip Roth, and Swedish poet Thomas Transtromer.
Newspapers also mentioned Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, who faces prison
after he was charged with insulting Turkish identity for supporting
Armenian claims they were the victims of genocide under the Ottoman
Turks in 1915.
Other contenders include South Korean poet Ko Un, Canadian author
Margaret Atwood, the Czech Republic’s Milan Kundera, Belgian poet Hugo
Claus, Italian poet Claudio Magris and Indonesian novelist Pramoedya
Others, however, said the academy could look inward, citing Danish
poet Inger Christiansen, and Transtromer, the Swedish poet.
Whatever the academy decides, it will likely have two immediate
consequences: increased book sales and controversy.
On Tuesday, Knut Ahnlund, 82, a member of the academy, publicly
criticized his colleagues for giving the prize last year to Austrian
feminist Elfriede Jelinek, and he resigned his membership over the
“Last year’s Nobel prize has not only done irreparable damage to all
progressive forces, it has also confused the general view of literature
as an art,” Ahnlund wrote in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.
He called Jelinek’s writing “a mass of text that appears shoveled
together without trace of artistic structure” and questioned whether
academy members had read even a fraction of her work.
Previous literature winners have included literary stalwarts such
as William Faulkner (1949), Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez
(1982), Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1970) and Toni Morrison (1993).
The academy, founded in 1786 by King Gustav III to advance the Swedish
language and its literature, has handed out the literature prize since
1901. Its current members, who serve for life, include several writers
as well as linguists, literary scholars, historians and a lawyer.
Their meetings are held in secrecy and they usually receive around
350 nominations for the prize every year by the Feb. 1 deadline.
During the spring, the nominations are whittled down to about 20,
with another 15 removed just before the traditional summer break.
Like the other Nobels, the prize includes a $1.3 million prize, a gold
medal and a diploma, and is handed out on Dec. 10, the anniversary
of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896.