There is no cultural oracle capable of predicting the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. That seems to be the premise of recent years, heightened by the steering wheel that the Swedish Academy made public by suspending it after the sex scandal and influence peddling in which the jury of the field was involved. Today an advisory committee of professors, who remains anonymous, recommends the winners in supposed silence and forced secrecy.
Also, like every year, online gambling determines a list of preferences that involves leaks, academic hypotheses, gossip from literary agents and publishing houses. At the service of the game, not exempt from whims and cabalas, the list of writers is extensive, in a ranking where the twelve films of the gallows stand out in order of accumulated bets: Haruki Murakami, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Anne Carson, Lyudmila Ulítskaya , Margaret Atwood, Maryse Condé, László Krasznahorkai, Annie Ernaux, Don DeLillo, Jamaica Kincaid, Joyce Carol Oates and Mircea Cartarescu. Outside and on the edge of this classification is Thomas Pynchon.
Within the western thought of central countries, the list responds to a certain thoughtful, pacifist, integrative and inclusive logic. Murakami represents a certain cultural fusion of the English language in the Japanese, where the future would be a diversity against the uniform totalitarianism of North Korea protected by China. The Kenyan Thiong’o, who in 2004 suffered the derision of the internal genocidal tribal struggle, joins the anti-colonialist and anti-racist current that had its global combative apex (breaking of statues and demonstrations), with the Black Black Lives Matter movement. Carson, Ulítskaya, Atwood and Condé, form the group of talented, empowered women, with work that confronts hegemonic machismo. So far the logic according to market parameters.
If the criteria were applied by an omniscient, universal, even critical reader, the panorama would be more radical. The game would take another tone and those listed would reverse the sense: Pynchon would be the undisputed deserved candidate, followed by Krasznahorkai, Oates and Cartarescu.
The invisible North American writer (phobic to photography in the image era), representative of the post-war counterculture, denied by the creative writing workshops put into vogue by English-speaking universities (originated in response to leftist intellectual prestige during the Cold War), whose oceanic novels such as Contraluz, Mason & Dixon and Vicio proper, as well as his first, generate a current of both poetic and musical recognition, became a historical compendium of a language outside the imperial circuit of recognition.
Along the same lines, and as a link with the European counterculture, the Hungarian Krasznahorkai would be a serious candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, although he does not enjoy global translation, his novels made into the cinema with Béla Tarr are in the range of the phenomenon unrepeatable artistic: Satanic Tango and Melancolía de la Resistencia. A final gesture of greatness would be for both of them to share it, as a recognition of both the American and European interior culture, between an acrat and a naturalist, opposite of unbridled power.
The third criterion is the global political agenda where there are others mentioned in the list of bets but in very backward positions. If it is to answer the suspicion about the synthetic origin of the current global pandemic, China should have the award to a dissident like Can Xue. From the union between feminism and cinematographic resonance, the undoubted Canadian Atwood is a symbolic slap to messianic subjects like Jair Bolsonaro and Boris Johnson. But we must not lose sight of the recent fall of Kabul and the return of Taliban primitivism, there is a strong historical condemnation of Islamic fanaticism, Salman Rushdie. If it were an opposition to the Muslim advance in Europe, more precisely in France, Michel Houllebecq has all the possibilities of a revolutionary political Nobel, at the Charlie Hebdo level.
The last criterion, as pragmatic as it is implausible, would come from applying the concept “promoters of global reading.” Stephen King, JK Rowling and, further afield, Cormac McCarthy, would be strong candidates for the Nobel Prize, imposing the volume of sales and film adaptations that brought millions of young people closer to reading novels, a result that all the existing ministries of education would never achieve in what that remains of life on the planet.
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Who will win the Nobel Prize for Literature?