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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature…

posted by on October 9 at 14:12 PM

…will be announced on Thursday.

The frontrunners—according to Ladbrokes, which bets on stuff like this—are Claudio Magris (Italian novelist), Les Murray (Australian poet), Philip Roth (American novelist), Thomas Transtromer (Swedish poet), and Adonis (Syrian-Lebanese poet).

It’s been 14 years since an American won.

All I have to say is: GO PHILIP ROTH!!!

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Posted by Mike Jones | October 9, 2007 2:13 PM

I am reading The Plot Against America by Phillip Roth right now and I am not loving it. It's clearly written by a great novelist, but it is not a great novel.

Which of his books should I read instead? Well, I mean I will finish this one, but which of his books is his best? American Pastoral?

Posted by exelizabeth | October 9, 2007 2:16 PM


Posted by Brought to you by dickheads of america | October 9, 2007 2:16 PM

I dunno, start in the beginning. With GOODBYE, COLUMBUS.

Posted by christopher Frizzelle | October 9, 2007 2:30 PM

You gotta admit though, Thomas Transtromer is a pretty awesome name. Winning the Nobel Prize would make him the Optimus Prime of literature. Nothing could stop Thomas Transtromer then.

Posted by Gretel | October 9, 2007 2:44 PM

i'm reading his early short stories right now. it starts with goodbye columbus, which i really enjoyed. i hear he's lost a lot of favor with age and alter-egos.

Posted by kate | October 9, 2007 3:12 PM

Roth has written a handful of great books, a lot of very good books and a smattering of mediocre books like, unfortunately, The Plot Against America.

His most famous and most entertaining book has got to be Portnoy's Complaint, which really is a laff riot in addition to being a painfully accurate picture about male sexuality.

However, the very very very best works of Philip Roth are the Zuckerman novels. Nathan Zuckerman is an amazing character in contemporary literature- he is both intensely likable and personally repugnant; incredibly revealing and willfully obscure; sexually adventurous and sadly alone. In short, he is a lot like every man in America between 20 and 90. Pick up a 2nd hand copy of Zuckerman Bound (the first 3 novels) and get into it.

Posted by Gurldoggie | October 9, 2007 4:18 PM

They almost only ever give the Nobel to writers who suck, though. Or at least who are considerably further back than 100th on the list of possible candidates. It's a political award, not a literary one.

Posted by Fnarf | October 9, 2007 4:23 PM

Beg pardon?

Political or not, Orhan Pamuk, J. M. Coetzee, Imre Kertész, Günter Grass, José Saramago, Dario Fo, Seamus Heaney, Octavio Paz, Camilo José Cela, Joseph Brodsky, Gabriel García Márquez, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Saul Bellow, Pablo Neruda, Samuel Beckett, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Bertrand Russell, William Faulkner, T.S. Eliot, Eugene O'Neill and William Butler Yeats
are not writers who suck.

I will, however, give you Elfriede Jelinek. She does suck.

Posted by Gurldoggie | October 9, 2007 4:37 PM

I'll go for Adonis as the best name on the list. Now there's some hubris!

Posted by Randy | October 9, 2007 4:40 PM

They need to hurry up and give it to John Berger already.

Posted by David | October 9, 2007 4:53 PM

I liked The Human Stain.

Maybe a month or so in the Sunday Magazine of the NYT they interviewed some literary someone or other who said she thought P Roth was a great writer, but that he hates women - in reference to his writing. (She was probably from Sarah Lawrence college.) I haven't read everything he has written, but I'm not sure I get that impression. Anyone else?

Posted by Soo | October 9, 2007 5:38 PM

If I was a betting person, this is the sort of thing I'd bet on. Screw horse races!

Posted by Abby | October 9, 2007 5:43 PM


Didn't read the book, but I was one of the 5 people on the face of the planet that loved the movie.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 9, 2007 5:44 PM

Sartre and Eliot do too suck. And quite a few of those others, while perhaps not entirely sucking, were never at any point in their careers anywhere near the top of the list. Bertrand Russell? A fascinating man, but LITERATURE? No. Camus? Popular with high school students and George W. Bush, but the NOBEL PRIZE?

On the other hand, make a list of the best writers of the twentieth century, and see how many got no Nobels, not even a sniff at them. Where's Nabokov? Hemingway? James Fucking Joyce? You think Seamus Heaney is better than James Motherfucking Joyce? Heaney isn't worth a pair of Joyce's used underpants, and he'd probably even agree with that. NONE of the poets except Yeats should be there. Where's Auden? Where's George Goddamn Orwell?

Jean-Paul Sartre, I ask you. Is there anybody who represents better the vacuity of a certain kind of postwar intellectual, I can't imagine who it is. Have you ever tried READING his crap? I actually read about half of Being and Nothingness (translated) when I was a pretentious undergrad, and those hours were more than wasted. Geez, if you're going to take someone from France, where's Raymond Queneau?

The relationship between literary greatness and the Nobel prize is essentially random.

Posted by Fnarf | October 9, 2007 6:10 PM

Hail Fnarf! Sole judge of literary greatness! Your analysis is so limp it might be mistaken for your dick if you're not careful. If think your undergrad days were "pretentious," you should listen to yourself now.

Posted by backin'in | October 9, 2007 7:31 PM

Roth is not deserving.

If David Foster Wallace can pound out another Infinite Jest he'll be your next American to win.

Posted by Ryan | October 9, 2007 7:40 PM

I'm surprised at you Fnarf. These are terrible arguments. Auden didn't get the prize so Eliot sucks? You got bored reading a philosophy textbook so Sartre sucks? Ridiculous.

I'm certainly not arguing that the Nobel is a perfect or complete prize - I share your outrage that Auden, Nabokov and Joyce never got the prize, not to mention Borges, Kafka, Stephan Mallarme, etc. etc.

But come on, all of those laureates made truly significant contributions to the literature of the world. Eliot was indispensable in the creation of modernist writing. Sartre popularized a philosophical theme that practically dominated literary writing for 50 years. (Not to mention discovering and championing Jean Genet!) Bertrand Russell was a pioneer in at least two huge literary developments. The Principia Matematica introduced a logical system that is STILL the dominant language among logicians and theoretical mathematicians. PLUS he made it safe and socially responsible to be a pacifist and atheist.

It's one thing not to like these writers. But claiming they suck? Don't be silly.

Posted by Gurldoggie | October 9, 2007 7:54 PM

A Jew like Phillip Roth deserves to win, his writing is brilliant, and he's head and shoulders above any of the goyim scribes listed. I agree with Christopher Frizzle, the award should go to a Jew.

Posted by Issur | October 9, 2007 8:33 PM

you go Gurldoggie!

Posted by gnossos | October 9, 2007 9:20 PM

You go, Issur!

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 9, 2007 9:41 PM


Hemingway won the award in 1954.

Posted by Luke | October 9, 2007 10:23 PM

On second thought, Vollmann has to be the next American to win. Wallace is a ridiculous genius but he doesn't have the catalog of work, yet.

But Roth? Really? I like Roth (Portnoy's Complaint is one of my favorite books) but there's just no way in hell he's in line for the Nobel prize.

Posted by Ryan | October 9, 2007 11:32 PM

He does hate women. He's a raging misogynist. Not that means he can't win the Nobel... When She Was Good is the most woman hatin book I've ever read. I'm not saying the guy can't write. I'm just sayin he's a major creep...n

Posted by dr. thompkins | October 10, 2007 9:04 AM


Posted by Krutzkjh | October 11, 2007 1:40 AM

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