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Jews Again Long Shots for Lit Nobel

Syrian poet Adonis favored; Roth at 25:1

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From left, David Grossman, A.B. Yehoshua, and Amos Oz—the big three of Israeli literature.(Alon Ron/Getty Images)

On “a Thursday in October,” the committee in Stockholm will announce the 2011 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. And if the bookmakers’ odds—not to mention recent history—are to be believed, it will almost certainly not be an American, probably not be a Jew, and quite possibly be someone you have barely heard of. Actually, Ladbrokes’ favorite is Adonis, the Syrian poet, who is of course well known and who would make sense in the year of the Arab Spring (and the Syrian tragedy). And Thomas Pynchon comes in at a surprisingly high 10:1 (if the notoriously secretive novelist won, would he accept in person?). Beyond that, favorites include Tomas Tranströmer (Swedish!), Rajendra Bhandari, Assia Djebar, and Ko Un. (Remember: the award can only go to a winning writer.)

The highest-ranked Jew is Philip Roth, at 25:1, up slightly from last year’s 33:1. But generally, the Jews face worse odds than last year: E.L. Doctorow dropped from 22:1 to 33:1; Amos Oz 25:1 to 33:1; Shlomo Kalo 45:1 to 50:1; A.B. Yehoshua 50:1 to 66:1; and Jonathan Littell 66:1 to 80:1. Only Bob Dylan, the perennial long shot, stayed steady at 100:1. The committee has been relatively kind to Jews, awarding the prize to five (Joseph Brodsky, Nadine Gordimer, Imre Kertész, Elfriede Jelinek, and Harold Pinter) in the past 25 years. By contrast, only one American has been selected during that time (Toni Morrison); the committee’s head has made it explicit that he doesn’t consider American literature to be all that great.

So, probably Adonis, and probably not a Jew. Then again, last year, the talk was about how Howard Jacobson was the underdog for the Man Booker Prize, and we know what happened there.

Nobel Prize in Literature Odds [Betting Pros]
Related: Nobel Prize Judge Slams American Literature [Guardian]
Earlier: Jews Are Longshots to Win Nobel, Booker
Howard Jacobson Pulls Off Booker Upset

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The award can only go to a LIVING writer, I think you mean.

Still think that such ethno-centrism is unbecoming.

The prize goes the the worthy recipient. Adonis is more than worthy to receive a literary prize for his poetry.

Paul Brandon says:

Since there is not objective metric for judging artistic quality, these awards are necessarily popularity contests. The results should not be surprising.
And of course, Jews are still over represented as a proportion of total worldwide population.

Adonis is a worthy poet, so was Yehuda Amichai and so are many Israeli novelists who will not get it because they are Israeli.

Israel probably has many ore novelists who are first rate writers than many other countries.

Let’s face it the Swedish Academy is not objective when it comes to giving out literary prizes.

Jews suck at many things, but when it comes to writing they have always done pretty well.

Saying that doesn’t make me ethnocentric and putting down your won people doesn’t make you objective.

Zeruya Shalev should be considered. She is well known in Europe and Israel and I can’t understand why she isn’t more appreciated in the USA. Her recent novel, Tara, is available in English. Not to be missed.

I find the discussion of Jewish and American writers a little too centered on novelists. There are many fine poets deserving of the award.


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Jews Again Long Shots for Lit Nobel

Syrian poet Adonis favored; Roth at 25:1

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