What a downturn, the Nobel Prize in Literature is a pantomime

Although the deliberations of the jury that awards the Prize Nobel Prize in Literature they are secret, the theory that they actually consist of arranging on the varnish of the noble table in the meeting room of the Academy is taking a card of truth. a small Ikea paper bag. Inside, there are 200 pieces of paper. In them, written in the charismatic dwarf Ikea pencil, are the names of 200 writers who are still alive and who, sometime in the last 40 years, appeared in a newspaper around the world. After a few hours of climatic, climacteric or clientelistic conversations, someone in a hurry volunteers to give the Nobel Prize for Literature on the air. Take out a paper. Reads. An agile secretary reviews the ‘ad hoc’ argumentation, where you can easily insert anything between “for your contribution to” and “a voice that denounces the exploitation / violence / oppression / helplessness” of “[escriba el país]”With” an imaginative / emotional / beautiful voice “that”[algo sobre abismos o fronteras]”, and ready. Then the jurors will eat out there.

The winner in this year’s draw has been Abdulrazak Gurnah (Tanzania, 1948), which I suppose is very fond of the lottery. I doubt that Spanish publishers are right now offering more than 50 cents for the full rights of his work. If the last book translated by Gurnah into Spanish is from the year 2003 (‘On the shore’, Poliedro), perhaps we weren’t so keen to read it. On Goodreads, Gurnah has 160 followers (Haruki Murakami has 100,000; Anne Carson has 2,700), and that particular novel, ‘By the Sea’ (2001), was only translated into Spanish and Turkish. In Spanish (yes, Goodreads is brutal as a literary prospecting tool), a person has read it; in Turkish, none. In total, there are 439 Goodreads users who have read this novel (written in English, remember, the most accessible language in the world) among the 90,000,000 registered users of this social reading network.

The Nobel Prize in Literature values ​​the contribution of an author to Humanity. Of course, that nobody reads you is an impressive contribution.

Why reward you?

They will say, of course, that the Nobel, taken from aesthetic purity, just appears as a cultural agitator from the choice of creative margins, secret narratives or clandestine poetics. Let’s focus: Peter Handke is not read by “anyone” in Spain, not Anne Carson, not Rachel Cusk. When we say “no one”, we say 1,500 people. In other words, “nobody” was a way of speaking. What happens here is that Abdulrazak Gurnah is not really read by anyone.

Why reward you? If his excellence were incontrovertible, perhaps he would have on his resume with more than just being a finalist for the Booker Prize with his novel ‘Paraíso’ in 1994. That is to say, during the last 30 years no one has realized the genius of Gurnah, which has not received not only the attention of the readers, but that of some of the hundreds of thousands of awards, distinctions, ridiculous honors and “best book of [cualquier cosa]”That exist in the broad and award-winning Anglo-Saxon cultural world by default. No, nothing. Gurnah was crouched, chuckling, thinking: you’ll see, I win the Nobel in the end.

Gurnah was crouched, giggling, thinking: you’ll see, in the end I win the Nobel

Of course, I have the firm intention not to read it. It will not cost me much effort given that there are hundreds of authors to read, thousands of books, and that eighteen erratic Swedes say that now it is time to read Abdulrazak Gurnah can only not care for good people.

Another thing would be if the Nobel Prize for, I don’t know, the last 15 years had not stopped awarding Gurnahs. So, having finally fallen into the reading of some, and having found it very pleasant, we would have some faith in this year’s Gurnah. But, if on one occasion you award Bob Dylan and you say that that makes sense, then you don’t give the award because you’ve made yourself sad, then you award two authors; and before you uncontrollably point out well-known authors and unknown authors, already poets here and novelists there, and now a random Chinese and now one from home because sometimes you have to reward Swedes; If you do all that, well, what criteria do you use, what line of recognition are you drawing, what can be expected of you, the Nobel, by 2050? Rewarding an algorithm, an activist, a political speechwriter, Pikachu? Yes, we can expect anything from the Nobel Prize in Literature, particularly that Pikachu will be awarded.

We can expect anything from the Nobel Prize in Literature, particularly that Pikachu will be awarded

A separate chapter deserves the circus of easements that arises around 18 Swedes taking a piece of paper from an Ikea bag. First, the bets, whose relevance is increasingly in question. The so-called “candidates”, who do not really exist, but who the cultural press is in charge of making believe that they exist. The nerves like the end of the year chimes with which the media machinery is approaching at the time of the announcement of the ruling. The rush for the headline that So-and-so has won, and for filling in, as is the case, a long article with insights on a work that no one has read, no one will read and no one gives a damn. The public libraries allocating a stand to gather the few books that there are of the author in the headquarters. The bookstores doing the same, putting dozens of copies full of dust next to the door and that, if they are still in the warehouse, it is because someone had put the aprons on top of those boxes. Two days after the ruling, Abdulrazak Gurnah returns to the warehouse, although the aprons will now have been put on a different pile of books.

If I were head of Culture in a newspaper, this would be the last time the Nobel Prize for Literature would appear in the section.

Although the deliberations of the jury that awards the Prize Nobel Prize in Literature they are secret, the theory that they actually consist of arranging on the varnish of the noble table in the meeting room of the Academy is taking a card of truth. a small Ikea paper bag. Inside, there are 200 pieces of paper. In them, written in the charismatic dwarf Ikea pencil, are the names of 200 writers who are still alive and who, sometime in the last 40 years, appeared in a newspaper around the world. After a few hours of climatic, climacteric or clientelistic conversations, someone in a hurry volunteers to give the Nobel Prize for Literature on the air. Take out a paper. Reads. An agile secretary reviews the ‘ad hoc’ argumentation, where you can easily insert anything between “for your contribution to” and “a voice that denounces the exploitation / violence / oppression / helplessness” of “[escriba el país]”With” an imaginative / emotional / beautiful voice “that”[algo sobre abismos o fronteras]”, and ready. Then the jurors will eat out there.

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What a downturn, the Nobel Prize in Literature is a pantomime