Murakami, Atwood, Ernaux … Who are the favorites of the Nobel Prize for Literature?

Who will be the 115th Nobel Prize for Literature? Who will pocket the 9 million Swedish kronor, or approximately 865,000 €? This is thanks to the generosity of the Swede Alfred Nobel (1833-1896), the inventor of dynamite, who, childless, asked that his fortune of some 180 million euros be used to reward each year, people “having brought the greatest benefit to humanity “, through their inventions, discoveries and improvements in various fields of knowledge. Every year, since 1901, the literary world has vibrated a few hours before the announcement of the most prestigious prize in the world, the one that offers posterity and ensures immediate media coverage, with, a priori, a wide translation and distribution of his work. Who, therefore, will have the honor of joining the cohort of lucky winners, including Sully Prudhomme, the first crowned, Rudyard Kipling (1907), Romain Rolland (1915), George Bernard Shaw (1925), Thomas Mann (1929), Hermann Hesse (1946), André Gide (1947), Willima Faulkner (1949), François Mauriac (1952, Ernest Hemingway (1954), Albert Camus (1957), Gabriel García Márquez (1982), Wole Soyinka (1986), Toni Morrison (1993) or even JMG Le Clézio (2008) and Patrick Modiano (2014)?

So who ? Bets are going well, in particular thanks to the English company Ladbrokes which, once a year, between two bets on baseball and basketball matches, offers its visitors to play such and such a writer. And this is how the latest favorites of the Nobel Prize for Literature appear on the bookmakers’ charts. This year, a comparison site for the different betting sites (Ladbrokes, therefore, but also Betsson, Bwin, and Smarkets) places, in order, the Romanian Mircea Cartarescu, the Japanese Haruki Murakami, the Russian Lyudmila Oulitskaïa, the Canadian Anne Carson, French Annie Ernaux, Keynian Ngugi wa Thiong’o, American Margaret Atwood, French Maryse Condé, and also Jamaica Kincaid, Don De Lillo, Joyce Carol Oates, Thomas Pynchon, Javier Marias, Michel Houellebecq, Amos Oz, Edna O’Brien, Hélène Cixous, Mia Couto, Scholastique Mukasonga, Elena Ferrante, Kadaré, Patti Smith, JK Rowling, Martin Amis, Milan Kundera, Stephen King …

Let’s dream a little, and if Annie Ernaux …

If Annie Ernaux picked up the timpani (let’s dream a little), she would be, after the American poet Louise Glück, 2020 laureate, the 17th woman to be distinguished by the Nobel Prize for Literature and the 16th French crowned head. And his abundant work, published by Gallimard, would know, there is no doubt, a certain planetary success – to be compared with Louise Glück, of whom only two collections of poems have been published to date in France since its consecration, (in March 2021 by Gallimard): Wild Iris, and Night of faith and virtue, in bilingual edition, sold respectively in 6,000 and 4,000 copies … To watch also, in the register of powerful women, the Guadeloupean Maryse Condé, who was awarded in 2018 by the “new literature prize of the Academy “, created because of failure of the committee, entangled in a scandal of sexual assault which resulted in numerous resignations among its 18 members. Without forgetting the eternal forebodings, that is Margaret Atwood, the Canadian star, world famous for her novel The Scarlet Handmaid, two-time winner of the Booker Prize, her fellow citizen, the Canadian poet Anne Carson, professor of history at McGill University in Montreal, and the Russian Ludmyla Oulitskaïa, foreign Medici Prize 1996 for Sonietchka,

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And why not a big absent from the lists of bookmakers

On the men’s side, we find the eternal favorite, the Japanese Haruki Murakami, cult author if any, the Hans Christian Andersen Prize for Literature, the JK Rowling Prize and the Jerusalem Prize, and, who climbs which climbs on the eve of the D-day, the Romanian Mircea Cartarescu eminent representative of the generation of the 1980s, much less known in France. But on closer inspection, the winner could be an author totally absent from the bookmakers’ lists. In 2014, the winner Patrick Modiano was not cited by any prediction site …

So, woman’s year with Annie Ernaux, Anne Carson, Maryse Condé or Margaret Atwood? Or an explosive year with Stephen King, Patti Smith or Michel Houellebecq? Or even a surprise year with a name out of the hat at the last moment? Anyway, Covid obliges, the physical Nobel Prize giving ceremony on December 10 in Stockholm is canceled. It was Vidar Helgesen, director of the Nobel Foundation, who announced it. “The Nobel Prize is a global phenomenon. Each year laureates from different continents are selected. Uncertainty about the evolution of the pandemic and the possibilities of international travel is the reason why in 2021, they will receive their medals. and diplomas in their country of origin. ”

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No Swedish ball, then, again this year. Something to console perhaps the “losers” who will also comfort themselves by recalling that Leo Tolstoy, Anton Tchekhov, Émile Zola, Jack London, Henry James, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Joseph Roth, Stefan Zweig, Robert Musil and José Luis Borges, to name a few, have never been awarded by the Swedish Academy.

Marianne Payot



Economist and essayist, Nicolas Bouzou is the founder and director of the Asterès consulting firm.Nicolas bouzou


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Opinion specialist at the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, Chloé Morin warns of the extent of the democratic crisis in her latest essay.By Chloé Morin

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Murakami, Atwood, Ernaux … Who are the favorites of the Nobel Prize for Literature?

Hank Gilbert