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9:48 AM - Aug 06, 2012 #31

BirneHelene wrote:Who else of those Americans has a reasonable chance? DeLillo the fourth elephant, but somehow I cannot see him win over the other three. Who else? Ashbery? But are there prose writers that are underappreciated? Writers that could win without civil war breaking out in the States?
I think on this forum Björn and I are the only ones appreciating Joyce Carol oates, but in the wider critical world, she is generally regarded as "up there" with the four, um, 'elephants'. I'm not sure about Richard Powers. Maybe a dark horse.

Gass is still alive, and his work has been translated into various european languages recently. I think Claro translated the tunnel two years ago and I just saw this week a brand new German translation of the book.

Robert Coover and John Barth are also still alive and possibly, with P, the last living great writers of their generation. I said it before: I would totally love to see a joint nobel for two or all three of them, for postmodern american fiction. it has been fantastically influential on world literature and three of its most important practitioners are still alive. It's a great opportunity.

how about Russell Banks? He writes highly regarded politically charged literary fiction and is popular inb Europe too, especially France, I gather.

Ondaatje has to be a perennial candidate, too. He's canadian, but that's basically the same thing.

Edmund White, too, very possibly.

OH! And Ishmael Reed. Important writer, still productive, old.


A nonfiction dark horse: Hilary Putnam is still (if barely) alive. Unless I forgot someone there is no other living philosopher of his influence and power. COME ON. Also, he writes well. It's Hilary Putnam and he might die tomorrow. Come on people. Do the right thing.

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Bjorn
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9:56 AM - Aug 06, 2012 #32

BirneHelene wrote:Who else of those Americans has a reasonable chance? DeLillo the fourth elephant, but somehow I cannot see him win over the other three. Who else? Ashbery? But are there prose writers that are underappreciated? Writers that could win without civil war breaking out in the States?
The Academy have all but said that Oates won't get it, which won't stop people speculating on her either. Nor B-b D-l-n.

Irving? I've never read him, and he does seem a bit too lightweight, but if you want to believe that the Academy's choices are always political, they could do worse than to praise The Cider House Rules against the current debate in the US... Plus, he's not one of the top contenders, which might improve his chances.

But yeah, if it's an American, I'd say it's down to the big three. I doubt they'll go for a poet two years in a row.
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10:01 AM - Aug 06, 2012 #33

Canox wrote:
Bjorn wrote:A Pynchon Nobel would be lots of fun. If they're going to give it to an American, give it to one who's guaranteed not to show up to collect it. :P
do you think pynchon could clinch the award by secretly promising the academy to accept it in person?
I'm not sure they're even allowed to do that - supposedly, no one outside the actual Academy is supposed to know until the minute it's announced. I know they didn't do that with the media shy Jelinek, nor with Pinter or Lessing who were both at an age where travelling might pose a problem.
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10:06 AM - Aug 06, 2012 #34

Bjorn wrote:The Academy have all but said that Oates won't get it
What did they say?



can I please add here that I am severely puzzled that McCarthy is regarded as part of a big 3 these days but neither Barth nor Coover are? With Sot-Weed, Giles Goatboy and Lost in the funhouse Barth has written 3 of the most important, best and most influential American works of prose in the last century, and Coover isn't far behind and still going strong. I started reading Noir recently and damn that is a good book.
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10:09 AM - Aug 06, 2012 #35

Bjorn wrote:Irving? I've never read him, and he does seem a bit too lightweight, but if you want to believe that the Academy's choices are always political, they could do worse than to praise The Cider House Rules against the current debate in the US... Plus, he's not one of the top contenders, which might improve his chances
His very nice new novel is about sexual identity, transgender, homosexuality etc. So that would also nicely fit.

I'M not sure I would be happy though. I love Irving but he doesn't seem literary enough for the award, if that makes sense.
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11:08 AM - Aug 06, 2012 #36

Canox wrote:
Bjorn wrote:The Academy have all but said that Oates won't get it
What did they say?
Can't find the quote right now, but there was a comment from Engdahl a couple of years ago that as far as he was concerned, Oates didn't "need" the prize. Which I actually agree with (ETA: And is also one of the main reasons I don't want Roth to get it; he's not necessarily undeserving if you go by his greatest hits, but what are Oates and Roth supposed to do with a Nobel besides add it to the pile?)

Didion? She's pretty popular over here, but I honestly don't know what her status is in the US.
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11:14 AM - Aug 06, 2012 #37

Well, come on, did Vargas Llosa 'need' it? Or Tranströmer?
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11:18 AM - Aug 06, 2012 #38

Canox wrote:I mean, am I wrong in looking at the past years and seeing either way overdue writers like Tranströmer, Pinter or Lessing, very old writers, too (I mean Pinter died within three years of receiving the award), or younger writers like Pamuk and Müller who had just recently-ish published a novel to great acclaim, a book that was widely translated etc. (Snow/Atemschaukel). Cartarescu would fall into the second category age-wise but he would lack the element of momentum, so to say.
I know that one easily falls into the habit of looking for such kinds of 'rules' or trends, I am doing this myself too, but I do not think I would agree here. There have been writers in recent years who do not fit into either of these categories: Le Clezio, Jelinek, Coetzee, Kertesz. So just because the last two years the prize went to longstanding favorites one cannot derive that this year's prize must go to a relative unkown one. How about candidates in between, Nadas for example, or Marias.

Thanks for this nice overview of the American Creme de la Creme. Again checking the Nobel library ;) they do not even have all novels of McCarthy there... but Oates, Barth, Coover, Gass, Ondaatje are all well covered.
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11:51 AM - Aug 06, 2012 #39

Bjorn wrote:
Canox wrote:
Bjorn wrote:The Academy have all but said that Oates won't get it
What did they say?
Can't find the quote right now, but there was a comment from Engdahl a couple of years ago that as far as he was concerned, Oates didn't "need" the prize. Which I actually agree with (ETA: And is also one of the main reasons I don't want Roth to get it; he's not necessarily undeserving if you go by his greatest hits, but what are Oates and Roth supposed to do with a Nobel besides add it to the pile?)

Didion? She's pretty popular over here, but I honestly don't know what her status is in the US.
1) Roth apparently also keeps lobbying the academy, which doesn't sit well with them and

2) Didion is a major essayist, probably (correct me folks) the major living American writer of general journalistic essays. her essays and novels have just been collected in handsome volumes in the everyman library thingie.
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12:10 PM - Aug 06, 2012 #40

BirneHelene wrote:Well, come on, did Vargas Llosa 'need' it? Or Tranströmer?
Point, though at least Tranströmer was hardly a household name on the "Even people who never read books know who he is" scale outside Sweden and obsessive poetry nerds, and most people on the street would probably struggle to name a book by Vargas Llosa (or they'd say A Hundred Years Of Solitude). Oates and Roth are one rung above that, they're more famous for not getting the Nobel than they'd ever be for actually getting it.

...I may have become slightly bitter over years of "The prize is USELESS if [popular author X] doesn't get it!" It used to be Greene and Lindgren, now it's Roth and Oates. It's become a meme that they have to get it. Actually giving it to them, however really fucking good American Pastoral and Blonde may be, is an exercise in pointlessness which would do nothing but devalue the prize and make it look like something you can get by yelling loud enough.

ETA: This sounds hopelessly snobbish however I put it. How about this: in being the most talked about possible winners for 10 years running, with endless amounts of articles and essays and blog posts about how they deserve it, I'd say that they've already gotten all the fame and glory the Nobel can bring. They've gotten it by conspicuously not getting it. The only thing they haven't gotten is the cash, and I don't think either of them is exactly living on food stamps.
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