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Jews Are Longshots To Win Nobel, Booker

Doctorow and Oz have a chance; Jacobson remains underdog

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E.L. Doctorow.(

See below for update. The Nobel Prize for Literature winner will be named from Stockholm Thursday morning, and, if the Ladbrokes odds are to be believed, no Member of the Tribe stands a particularly strong chance. The most likely may surprise you: Put money down on E.L. Doctorow at 22:1 odds. He is followed shortly by Amos Oz (25:1), Philip Roth (33:1), Shlomo Kalo (45:1), A.B. Yehoshua (50:1), Jonathan Littell (66:1), and, last but certainly not least, Bob Dylan (100:1), who is my personal pick. (Actually, my personal pick is Roth, but don’t expect the Nobel Committee—which has famously overlooked James Joyce, Marcel Proust, Vladimir Nabokov, and many other great authors—to honor, of all things, an American.) The award is given only to living writers; t he last Jew to win was Joseph Brodsky, in 1987.

Next week brings Britain’s Man Booker Prize announcement. Here we have a stronger rooting interest: Harold Jacobson, whose nominated The Finkler Question was reviewed by books critic Adam Kirsch today, is one of only six names on the shortlist. His book remains, however, the underdog at 7:1 odds; Tom McCarthy’s C is the 2:1 favorite.

UPDATE: No idea how I missed the four (4!) Jewish Nobel laureates since Brodsky, especially since I knew that three of them were Jewish (have to plead ignorance on Jelinek). But as more than one commenter pointed out, Nadine Gordimer, Imre Kertész, Elfriede Jelinek, and Harold Pinter, have won since Brodsky. Which means, of course, that five Jews have won the award since 1987. The number of Americans? One (Toni Morrison).

Nobel Literature Prize Betting Odds [Ladbrokes]
Booker Prize Betting Odds [Ladbrokes]
Related: Mirror Images [Tablet Magazine]

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Miriam says:

Imre Kertesz, who won in 2002, is Jewish – he won for his writing about the Holocaust.

“The last Jew to win was Joseph Brodsky, in 1987.” How about Harold Pinter in 2005?

Marcia Almey says:

I agree with you about Philip Roth. IMO, he’s a great writer. However, I don’t think the reason has hasn’t won the Nobel is that he’s American — after all, Doctorow is as well and he rates better odds. I suspect that the Swedish Nobel Committee still hasn’t forgiven him for Portnoy’s Complaint, so no matter how great books such as American Pastoral, The Human Stain, and The Plot Against America are, somehow they can’t quite erase the “human stain” of Portnoy. Too bad, and I’d love to be proven wrong.

Shalom Freedman says:

The information in this article is erroneous.
There have been four additional Jewish Nobel Prize winners since Brodsky in 1987.
Nadine Gordimer (1991)
Imre Kertész (2002)
Elfriede Jelinek (2004)
Harold Pinter (2005)
I would strongly suggest that the author of this piece who has erred in this past on more substantial matters relating to Israel and its security be much more careful in his research in the future.

I was rather hoping for David Grossman.

Jelinek is half Jewish.


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Jews Are Longshots To Win Nobel, Booker

Doctorow and Oz have a chance; Jacobson remains underdog

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