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text 2016-10-13 14:29
And the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature goes to . . .

The Nobel Committee just announced that the 2016 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature is Bob Dylan.


To be honest I'm still wrapping my head around the news. I know that he has been mooted as a potential awardee for years, but most people have dismissed it as unlikely and even unwarranted, or that he would receive the Nobel Peace Prize rather than the literature award. Yet now it has happened. Bob Dylan, Nobel Laureate.


I think this is definitely going to be a topic of discussion for a long while. Count me among those who think he is deserving of the award, but it definitely is a path-breaking decision. As far as I know, they have never given it to a person whose best-known writing is song lyrics. That certainly opens up the pool of future potential awardees.


As deserving as it is, though, I also can't help but feel a little bad for the other Americans who have been mentioned as potential laureates. I read recently that every year Philip Roth trudges to his agent's office and waits by the phone in anticipation of the announcement; if that is rue, then I can only wonder at his reaction to the news. Because Dylan's award means that it will be probably be awhile before another American wins it, as it's been twenty-three years since they last gave it to one. At least now Roth can sleep in on the announcement day, though he may have difficulty doing so since it's unlikely now that he will ever become a Nobel Laureate. Or maybe he's secretly working on a cure to the common cold, because at this point if he still wants one his best bet is to chase after one of the science prizes.

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text 2016-10-06 16:10
And speaking of literary awards . . .

. . . the finalists for the National Book Awards were just announced.


I have read exactly none of the books on the list, but from what I've read about them it seems to be a good selection, and I am going to have to add a couple of the Nonfiction titles to my towering TBR stack.


I do have a complaint, though, and it's a biggie: WHAT THE HELL IS JOHN LEWIS'S MARCH DOING IN THE YOUNG PEOPLE'S LITERATURE CATEGORY?!?!?


I'm sorry, but this angers me for a number of reasons. It seems like a total diss of what is a serious memoir by a civil rights pioneer. It should be in Nonfiction, not fobbed off in a "kids" category just because it happens to be in in graphic novel form. Or are all graphic novels to be regarded as "kiddie lit" just because they include artwork drawings?


Seriously, National Book Foundation, you people are real assholes.

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text 2016-10-06 13:57
Some thoughts on the Nobel Prize in Literature

I teach for a living, and the place where I teach runs on a semester cycle, so I tend to have a fall/spring orientation in a lot of ways. One of the ways it manifests itself is that each year I get invested in two major sets of awards. In the spring its the Pulitzers, which to me are a signpost of all that is great and good (and sometimes not) in American writing, particularly (for me) in the history, biography, and general nonfiction categories.


It's fall, though, which means it's time for the Nobels.


Right now the Nobel Committee is announcing the science awards. I love those awards, as I feel as though they give us an opportunity for a few days every year to discover all of the amazing ways in which we humans are expanding our knowledge and understanding of our world. Reading Marc Raboy's recent biography of Guglielmo Marconi (Nobel laureate in physics, 1909) also helped me to realize that they also recognize discoveries that shape or will shape our lives, though this is probably more evident in with the Medicine award than the other science ones. On Friday they will announce the Nobel Peace Prize, which may be the biggest touchstone we have about our values and progress as a civilization.


Then next week they will announce the Nobel Prize in Literature, which is easily the biggest prize there is in all of writing. I like that they give it to an author for their entire body of literature, rather than just one work like most literary awards, and they've given it to a lot of great writers over the years (though the list of writers who never received one -- Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Émile Zola, Jorge Luis Borges, Chinua Achebe -- is even more illustrious). Lately, though, I greet the news of the award with a puzzled, "Who?", because they are some internationally-recognized author whose name somehow never gets mentioned in the media.


At least that was how I thought of it until I read this article about the odds of who might win it this year. At about the midway point one of those epiphanies-that-should-have-been-obvious-long-ago struck me, which that I am an American who knows diddley-squat about world literature. Yes, I can rattle off the names of some great American writers (Philip Roth, Dom DeLillo, Joyce Carol Oates) and I can also identify a few prominent foreign ones as well -- Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Clive James, Haruki Murakami.


Notice anything that these writers have in common? If your answer is that they all write in English, you're absolutely correct (and yes, I know Murakami writes in Japanese, but his books get enormous play in the U.S. when they are released in translation). The reality is that my literary scope has some big damn blinders on it. Take the four authors identified in the article as having the best odds of winning the Prize this year: Adonis, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Jon Fosse, and Ko Un. Have you even heard of these four before this moment, let alone read any of their works? If the answer is yes, then you have my respect, but I suspect for most of us the answer is no.

This is when my appreciation increased for the challenge they have in awarding the prize. How do you recognize the best writers in all of world literature? Think of the scope: to do so requires knowing the contemporary literature of scores of countries, not all of which is translated into English, let alone Swedish. Then their merits have to be assessed relative to each other. Politics of various sorts undoubtedly comes into play, which if nothing else has to be a factor for the Literature prize to maintain the stature it possesses. And then they give out one award. One. Per year. Considering all of that, I should be impressed that I recognize any of the writers on the list of recent laureates.


All of this is not to say that I forgive the committee for their sins. To this day they have an understandable bias in favor of Scandinavian literature that they seem unwilling to overcome (and yet in spite of that the one Scandinavian author we would all be able to recognize -- Stieg Larsson -- never received one) and they often favor writers as much for their political leanings as for their works. But perhaps in the years to come I will spend less time complaining about the "obscurity" of the writer to whom they have the award and more time instead searching out some of their works so as to broaden myself. It really is what makes literary awards worth following.


Still, it would be awesome if Thomas Pynchon ever won it.

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text 2016-04-21 03:03
2016 Goldie Awards finalists announced!
Medusa: A Dark Victorian Penny Dread (The Dark Victorian Penny Dreads Book 2) - JoSelle Vanderhooft,Elizabeth Watasin
The Wrecking Faerie: A Charm School Novella, The Witching Hour Collection - Elizabeth Watasin

Both my MEDUSA: A Dark Victorian Penny Dread, and Charm School’s WRECKING FAERIE made finals in the Golden Crown Literary Society’s 2016 Goldie Awards! *whew*
Congratulations to all the finalists! http://bit.ly/1SU0kbD

Considering that I'm a little unconventional in my characters and stories, I'm gratified! :)

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url 2015-07-07 21:08
Sharing Literary Prize (BBC Africa)


The winner of this year's prestigious Caine Prize for African Writing, Zambian writer Namwali Serpell, has told the BBC she will share her £10,000 ($15,600) prize with the other four runners-up.


"It is very awkward to be placed into this position of competition with other writers that you respect immensely and you feel yourself put into a sort of American idol or race horse situation when actually you all want to support each other," the US-based author told the BBC's Newsday programme.


The judges described her short story, The Sack, as "innovative, stylistically stunning, haunting and enigmatic".

Source: www.bbc.com/news/live/world-africa-33208708?ns_mchannel=social&ns_source=twitter&ns_campaign=bbc_live&ns_linkname=[Sharing%20the%20literary%20prize%2611:03]&ns_fee=0#post_33425270
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