The Birdcage Archives

Friday 28 August 2015


Hello Gentle Reader

Why some writers choose to write large novels – and by large novels, I mean steroid and growth hormone injected novels, best described as “Meganovels,” is something completely beyond my comprehension. What is wrong with choosing to write concisely, decisively, precisely? Grand verbosity is not a talent. Blabbering and blubbering on and on and one, should not (and is not in my mind) considered anything remotely close to literary genius. Anyone can ramble and rant – much like the blind preacher down at the end of the street, proclaiming that once again, the world will end, this time in September two-thousand and fifteen – turning that into a five hundred to thousand page novel, should be considered a literary blunder, and an embarrassment; and the novel itself should be used as a doorstop as its physical demeanour would allow it. Writing a meganovel, is entering a wordsmith packrat or verbose hoarder. There could not possibly be any room to breathe or move, let alone kick up ones feet and relax. Reading such a novel in my mind, is as daunting as climbing Mount Everest, and must scrounge up, about as much effort to enthusiasm to do so. The real problem with meganovels, is they often fall into the heart monitor pattern: the climatic rises, the epiphany movements, the height of the language of the novel; and then: the recession, the decline, the flat line – the mind cries out: I need an Automated External Defibrillator; a shot of adrenaline (or any intracardiac injection); an intravenous of coffee – Something! Anything! – to revive what once had the promise of being a great novel. Yet unfortunately much like the peaking mountains of the heart on the monitor, it too must have its declines, carefully measured to appear much longer than necessary and to offer the illusion of important required information, in order to avoid being over looked, skimmed or skipped by the reader. The last book, I had read from my memory, that is best defined as a ‘meganovel,’ would be Doris Lessing’s “The Golden Notebook,” an extraordinary novel, filled with high points, and at times filled with moments, that truly showed how much such novels of such extraordinary length falter in failure. Now every large novel is in some way or another, is now continually assessed by the impressions that “The Golden Notebook,” had placed upon me, and the weary exhaustion, it had left me with after reading. I immediately think of this passage from “The Golden Notebook,” which describes reading such large ventured novels:

“The entire kitchen is full of good cooking smells; and all at once I am happy; so happy that I can feel the warmth of it through my whole body. Then there is a cold feeling in my stomach, and I think: Being happy is a lie, it’s a habit of happiness from moments like these during the last four years. And the happiness vanishes, and I am desperately tired. With the tiredness comes guilt. I know all the forms and variations of this guilt so well that they even bore me.”

Such is what large novels are like. The beginning is filled with light, freshness in the air, and a sense of wonderful beginning. But continued reading, which may take place, after a few hundred pages or so, will eventually reveal, that cold feeling in the stomach; and all at once, the golden hour, vanishes, and the light behind the curtains turns to ashen grey, and the everything begins to have a more sour smell to it; and all of a sudden something has gone wrong. For veteran meganovel readers; who choose to bring such a novel on the long plane ride for business or pleasure; they immediately spot the waning light, the change in perfume of the décor, and have already braced themselves for the eventual recession, and they are bored before it starts. I would not consider a four hundred and eighty page novel, to be considered a “meganovel,” by any means. However upon looking at Mircea Cărtărescu’s novel “Blinding,” there was an immediate understanding: this would be a long read; hopefully it would be enjoyable; and for the most part: it was.

Mircea Cărtărescu is one of Romania’s greatest literary exports. At the age of fifty-nine Cărtărescu is considered a Nobel Prize for Literature contender, and can often be spotted on the speculators lists. Recently Cărtărescu won the Leipzig Book Award back in March, for his universal novel “Orbitor,” or rather “Blinding,” (all three volumes: “Blinding Volume 1: The Left Wing,” Blinding Volume 2: The Body,” and “Blinding Volume 3: The Right Wing,”). The novel (or trilogy) is described as an autobiography, in the loosest sense of the term, as it is considered heavily unreliable, with its surreal passages, twists and turns, and often hallucinogenic imagery, which depicts life under Nicolae Ceausescu’s communist dictatorship in Romania. A era that has been represented by the Romanian born German author (and Nobel Laureate and personal favourite) Herta Müller. The depictions are very similar in there, same distaste for the dictatorship that had robbed both of them of their childhoods, their family, and their concepts of home. Both writes are only three years a part (Müller born in 1953 and Cărtărescu born in 1956), but both writers are considerably different in how they dealt with the atrocities of the dictatorship, based on their own personal experiences of the dictatorship.

Herta Müller was part of the German minority, which had settled in the Banat region of Romania, and did not consider themselves to be Romanian’s but rather Germans. The German men of Müller’s home village of Nițchidorf were adamant converts to Hitler’s National Socialism; one such supporter and Waffen-SS member, was Müller’s father. Herta Müller’s work has for the most part, been depictions of a world and landscaped completely filled with the disposed. Yet Müller work is more provincial; which imitates her own past and her own experience of the dictatorship: first the controlled and conformed atmosphere of the village, and family; then the brutality of the dictatorship slithering through the streets and alleys of the city, via its faceless and unknown peons; and the final infiltration of the home, which leads to routine interrogations and a startling obstruction of everyday life. As Müller stated, you could be on your way to the market or hairdresser, and find yourself being interrogated instead. Yet Müller (and her novels) each dream of the thought of flight, and fleeing the dictatorship and the country, for another country, for a safer place; only to find, that one does not quite belong there either. In Romania Herta Müller was German; in Germany Herta Müller was the Romanian. She was continually trapped between two worlds and two countries; and both languages: the German of her home; and the Romanian of the city, have infused her work with a dual perspective of both languages.

Mircea Cărtărescu on the other hand was a Romanian through and through. There was no other homeland to flee to. His own homeland and birthplace, was a nightmare of terror and paranoia, which has led to the depiction of a surreal, dark, and hallucinatory world in which Cărtărescu had grown up in. Cărtărescu’s work is far more urban. His work takes place in a surreal city defined and named as Bucharest. Bucharest for Mircea Cărtărescu is the same as, Fernado Pessoa’s Lisbon, Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul, and Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo. The Bucharest of Cărtărescu is surreal city, of tortured citizens, and disturbing memories. It is a place, which is both womb and tomb; childhood paradise, and nightmare landscape of caprice and demented realities. For   Cărtărescu Bucharest is both home and hell. “Blinding Volume 1: The Left Wing,” is the feminine side of memories; both of authors mother, but also the childhood wonder of the beauty of the urban landscape of Bucharest.

Mircea Cărtărescu does not consider himself to be a novelist, or a storyteller. First and foremost Cărtărescu considers himself a poet, and “Blinding,” certainly solidifies himself as a poet. Blinding is best described as a dream-memoir, or a poetic autobiography. The entire novel is filled with wonderful passages, which weight a varied colour palate to depict often dark and twisted images. The poet balances the light and shade of the narrative, in order to offer the greatest impact of the images; and the prose is deeply saturated with a poetic vocabulary. All of this is engulfed in the labyrinth of the narrative, which defies reality, and often moves between dream and hallucination; what is objectively observed and what is subjectively perceived. Time becomes immaterial; and the surreal landscape of Bucharest, is the only anchor that holds the narrator to the postage stamp corner of reality. This leads to complications with this novel. The book details a metaphysical cosmology, which one can quickly be lost in its ever changing axis and orbit. The images and juxtapositions will confound and fluster many. The questions that are asked may not be answered. Cărtărescu’s novel could have used more of a tangible plot, even in the loosest sense of the term, to offer readers a more grounded experience when reading the book. The novel is startling, flashing, and exuberant – but it is also nauseating as the book twists and turns,  and readers once again loose themselves in a labyrinth of colours, surreal tombs, art exhibits, apartment complexes, and standalone elevators, that have survived the war and its bombings. The book is an enjoyable (though confusing romp), and it is a treat for the senses. However, for the subject matter, and the at times lack of a grounded bases of reality to come back, to the novel at times spins out of control, and then falls into a new axis as it orbits the metaphysical questions once again. However despite the ambitions of the project, and its catapulting the reader into a grand language infused novel, that pushes the limitations of language, comprehension and sanity to endure – it is this feverish intensity, and the desire to make the language express the surreal and absurd nature of the time, that makes the novel worth it. If one can get past the oddities, and the over saturated language of the novel, and find the gems, the beauty of the work of a poet writing in prose, then “Blinding,” (Volume 1: The Left Wing), becomes completely worth the uncertain nature in which the book is read. It just may take a while.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read
*And Remember: Downloading Books Illegally is Thievery and Wrong.* 

M. Mary

Friday 14 August 2015

Nobel Speculation 2015

Hello Gentle Reader

The Beginning

Admittedly, I was a bit worried this year, when I started composing the following list. It appeared that speculation this year was not happening. I repeatedly checked numerous online forums, hoping to see a glimpse of some speculation. However my search often turned up past speculations. It was not until August 3rd, that World Literature Forum had begun its own speculation for this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature. It was thanks to the member: “Daniel del Real,” and a reminder sent to him, that speculation was underway. Needless to say there was relief, to see speculation and discussion follow suit. Though it were to seem that this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature speculation has all been a bit late or lack luster anyway, than to prior years. Hopefully though the conversations will begin to increase, and intensify as the date grows nearer, and the Swedish Academy will release the date in which this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature will be announced.

For the first time in its two-hundred and twenty nine years, Sara Danius has become the first women to hold the position of Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy. She precedes the former Permanent Secretary Peter Englund, and has officially taken the role and title on June 1st. The fact that this is the first female Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy; many are wondering about the criteria in which future Nobel Laureates in Literature will be chosen; what will be a concurrent theme of the Laureates, the chosen form in which they write (i.e. prose, poetry or theatre), as well as the gender divide since the inception of the Nobel Prize for Literature was first created. Out of the one-hundred and eleven Laureates (from 1901-2014) there are only thirteen women who have been awarded the prize; the last being Alice Munro in two-thousand and thirteen. It should also be noted that though Sara Danius is now officially the Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, I speculate that she may be working with a list that has been approved and compiled by the former Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy Peter Englund. Also a quick note: Horace Engdahl is now the Director of the Swedish Academy. So in a tongue and cheek way, the fears of an American writer becoming a Nobel Laureate are most likely put to rest.

What follows is a personalised list of speculation, which is split into geographical area, writer, their country of origin, and a brief synopsis of the writer. Some writers have appeared on past speculative lists, alongside new writers included in the list. However there is always a sense of regret, of the authors that are overlooked, and authors that I am oblivious too, who should receive equal consideration. Please enjoy Gentle Reader!


[ There is a lot discussion that Africa requires recognition for its own startling literary endeavours that are taking place throughout the continent. Many state that the last true African writer to become a laureate was Wole Soyinka in nineteen-eighty six; and that recognition is overdue. This came the forefront, upon the death of Chinua Achebe. However the Swedish Academy truly has no debts. Numerous great writers have been overlooked throughout history, when it comes to the Nobel. One must remember that the Nobel is awarded to individuals who write great works of literature; not to countries who lobby for them ]

Mia Couto – Mozambique – Mia Couto is not a native of Africa; his parents came from Portugal when Portugal had colonized Mozambique. Couto just won this year Neustadt International Prize for Literature, and has been considered a contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature. His works detail the African Experience, in a violent magical realism, and fairytale like manner. It is a world haunted by spirits, and a bloody history; but also amazing with its sites, and natural beauty; and untamed brutality of its natural landscapes. Couto has been called a ‘smuggler writer,’ because of his unique style of stealing words and meanings to make them available in other languages. All of this gives birth to Couto’s experience as a writer of foreign origin in a foreign land that has become home.

Wilma Stockenström – South Africa – Stockenström is a playwright, poet and casual novelist. She writes in her native Afrikaans. I have been aware of Stockenström for a while, but only because of her poetry. The way I always picture the author is, in a black and white photograph with a cat. She has appearance of being aloof or distracted by something; yet she sits with a regal and reticent pose. Whereas the cat, one paw raised; watches the camera with suspicion and paranoia. My first real introduction with Stockenström besides her poetry was her recently translated novel “The Expedition to the Baobab Tree.” The prose was dense, lucid, and lyrical. It has a certain playful manner of being a fairytale or a poetically shone tale of an African woman who had escaped to freedom, but finds a more frightening world in her freedom, in the African wilderness. It’s a beautiful novel filled with lyricism, metaphor, and a shifting sense of time, influenced by memory. Her poetry is unadorned and not overtly ornate. Her voice is satirical at times but always compassionate.

Corsino Fortes – Cape Verde – Cape Verde is considered part of the African continent. Yet in a global landmass way, it almost appears to engulf its own world entirely. It is an archipelago and not well known. Yet in a geographers mind it is as much a part of Africa as Cameroon or Chad are. Fortes is a poet; and like the great poets before him: Pabulo Neruda, Saint-John Perse, Czeslaw Milosz, and Octavio Paz; is also a diplomat. Corsino Fortes writes of the odysseys of the island(s) of Cape Verde that is reminiscent of Derek Walcott. His poems deal with the islands day to day life, and their hardships: such as droughts. His poetry also looks to a new and unwritten future for the nation of Cape Verde after Salazar had been overthrown; and Portuguese colonial rule waned. His poems also however deal with the emigration of the islanders of the country to the other corners of the world. But his poetry also gives voice to those who have stayed and wish to rebuild the independent country.

Nuruddin Farah – Somalia – The self-imposed exiled Somali writer, who writes in English, has been an international writer from, the continent. He has won numerous international awards, which includes the Neustadt International Prize for Literature. His most famous work is perhaps the “Blood in the Sun,” Trilogy; a coming of age story, in a post-independent world. It is in fact the first part of this trilogy “Maps,” that has cemented his reputation as a heavy weight champion, in contemporary literature. “Maps,” uses the second person narration, to discuss cultural identity and post-colonialism; set during and around with the Ogaden Conflict of nineteen-seventy seven. Farah writes about his exiled homeland, to make it more real to him, and to keep it alive.

Pepetela – Angola – Pepetela is a writer who has turned his gaze to the past of his homeland of Angola. Its historical trials – the most significant the Angola war of Independence or the Colonial Wars. But also of late, his work has become more socially critical of Angola’s ruling class, and the social problems of the country. However, as of late, Pepetela’s works have moved away from Angola, for the setting of his novels, and has since moved on to more international locations, and themes. His works have turned from their searching of the past, to the exploration of new horizons. 

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o – Kenya – Thiong'o is fascinating because he does not write his work in well known or easily accessible language. His novels are written in the tribal language Gikuyu Kikuyu. Linguistically speaking this makes Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o a fascinating author in the use of language. His work are written in the magical realism style; where the horrors of his native Kenya are placed alongside the spirits of ancestors, and the war lords and dictators that rise and fall within the world around him. His works are both satirical and allegorical, but deal with political affairs much like the Latin American Boom authors such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Carlos Fuentes, and Mario Vargas Llosa had done so prior.

North Africa/Middle East –

[ The greatest issue with the Middle and subsequent writers of this geographical area, will always be politics. Unfortunately politics has its way of forcing itself upon the literature of writers. Be it fascism, communism, or authoritarian regimes or religious fundamentalism. In this sense, writers of these places must decide which side they are on. Passivism is often criticized for not standing strong for the human and humane ideals of peace, prosperity and freedom. Politics and their intricate complexities, often do not translate well and may of over shadow great writers. ]

Adunis – Syria – Adunis is the Grandfather in many ways of modern Arabic poetry; and often seen as a perennial contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature. In two-thousand and eleven there was criticism, that Adunis was not recognized because of the Arab Spring. He is a rebellious figure that has broken though the already established poetic forms and expectations of the already set out formula for Arabic Poetry. With this Adunis has reshaped the poetic sphere of throughout the Middle East into something new and bewildering; and all that more international. His poems are sharp with political criticism; but also enjoy depicting the beauty of the world, as poetry is a place inhabited, between dreams and the clouds overhead.

Bahaa Taher – Egypt – Taher, has been referred to as “Cairo’s greatest literary secret,” and this may have been true; until recently. Taher is getting translated into the English language more and more, and is gaining recognition. Taher’s literary voice is somber and wise. Yet being a writer, has not been a smooth and easy career for Taher. He was fired in the nineteen-seventies as a radio journalist; he then worked as a UN translator for fourteen years, lived in exile – and yet through it all has weather political purges, and regime changes. Yet despite this Baher is a literary writer, before he is political. His novels are plagued by the unfortunate fact, that like all fiction from the Middle East, will have political connotations; yet it is safe to say that Taher, skirts the overt political for digression into the human condition.

Elias Khoury – Lebanon – The greatest challenge that faces all writers from the Middle East is politics. Politics does not always translate well, into fitting into western held ideologies and thoughts on the continued problems, which plague the Middle East. Elias Khoury is of no exception to politics and how it forcibly shapes the literary themes of writers. His novel “Yalo,” depicts torture in Lebanon’s judicial system. “Little Mountain,” is depicted during Lebanon’s civil war. Yet for Khoury the facets of truth and discovering the truth always appear to be at the forefront of his work. This often leaves Khoury, forced to depict the brutalities of events and their realities without flinching and without blinking. Yet he is still a storyteller at heart, and perhaps one of the greatest writers of prose in the Arabic language. 

Amos Oz – Israel – Amos Oz won Franz Kafka Prize in two-thousand and thirteen. Other authors who have won the prize are Harold Pinter and Elfriede Jelinek. Both went on to win the Nobel. Politically speaking, Amos Oz in regards to Israel and the Arabic world has been cited as a left leaning intellectual. He supports the idea of a two state system between Israel and Palestine. Yet this does not foreshadow his own literary merit and output. He is known for his realistic characters, and ironic touch; with the accompanying landscape and life in the kibbutz. All wrapped up with a slight critical tone.

H. A. Sayeh – Iran/Germany – Sayeh is considered one of the most eminent Iranian poets of the twentieth century. His first collection of poetry was published when he was nineteen, during the open period of Iran’s history following World War II; and was introduced by the famous poet Mehdi Hamidi Shirazi. During this time period Sayeh was involved with numerous literary circles and published in numerous magazines. However like many of his contemporaries Sayeh reframed from entering into any political discussions of the time, and maintained his own political integrity and social consciousnesses. However after the Iranian Revolution, Sayeh’s apolitical stance did not save him; and spent many years in prison, before leaving to Germany in nineteen-eighty seven. Sayeh’s productivity is considered very small, because of his attention to phraseology and exact craftsmanship. H. A. Sayeh is also known as a master of traditional lyrical formats as well. Though Sayeh’s age may work against, as he is currently eighty-seven.

Ibrahim al-Koni – Libya – al-Koni is a prolific writer. He has written over sixty novels, short stories, poems, essays and aphorisms. Which is quite an accomplishment for a writer who did not learn to read or write until he was twelve years old? Al-Koni studied at the Gorky University, and had worked as a journalist in Moscow and Warsaw. His life and identity often play out in his work. The writer is a product of traditional nomadic life, and yet post-colonial circumstances. He was born in the Tuareg Desert, and is known as a rootless being, who looks to the culture and the world in which he was born, to which he has since left, and often writes about the strange world in which he left behind, tinged with imagination and reminisced memories.

Europe –

[ I always must feel it necessary to apologize for the largest part of my list, is always given to Europe. However there can be no doubt that Europe is still a literary and cultural powerhouse of the world, and it produces a great deal of literary work. Europe continues to be a fascination of literature to me, with its numerous years of literature produced and its continuation to produce such work. ]

Ersi Sotiropoulos – Greece – In her native Greece Ersi Sotiropoulos is considered part of the avant-garde literary scene. Compared to what is considered avant-garde in English literature, Sotiropoulos would be considered extremely accessible. However, the accessibility is only a facade. Sotiropoulos’s language is sparse and spare, but her prose lacks a concrete beginning, middle or end. The pillars of plot have been destroyed; and what remains is often a confusing surreal cul-de-sac that only has traces of déjà vu and nothing more concrete. Despite this, Ersi Sotiropoulos has written novels, short stories and poetry, and is considered one of the foremost writers in Greece and the Greek language. Her work details how modern people often seek connection, and the relationships that are formed in an ever changing world.  

Leonard Nolens – Belgium – Leonard Nolens was tipped a few years back, as being a possible future Laureate. Since that tip had come, I never forgot the poet and diarist; and always watched to see his name pop up again. He is in effect one of the greatest poets of the Flemish language. His earlier works were barque inspired and very experimental; yet as he matured his work eventually became more and more sober, to the point the style became spoke word, but did not lose its profundity. His works are considered the cream of the crop; and his oeuvre is astounding and prolific. What interests me most about Nolens is his journals; where the poet and the individual become intertwined, and his theme of trying to escape ones identity becomes all that more apparent.

Viivi Luik – Estonia – Luik arrived on the Estonian literary scene, as a wonder child, at the age of eighteen with her startling and welcomed collections of poetry. However Luik has deviated from the path of poetry, a few times. Her novels are known for the same sensual and musical language; often depicting the fragility of words and language to truly represent life and the human condition. Despite this, her works are dense socially and politically engaged; but also show a certain talent for sensing the changes within the social and political realms. For this Luik has been compared to a canary in a coal mine. Luik is regarded as one of Estonia’s greatest literary treasures. She writes about nature, the dilemmas of human relationships, Estonia’s history and its place in the present, and its trajectory.  Luik’s poetry may have airy metaphors, a musical language, and often use fragile words and compositions to discuss  the world, her country, and her own sense of anxiety within a totalitarian state; she is in an almost blatant and veiled air: a resistance writer; whose sensual writing overcame the reigning ideological system of the time.

Mircea Cartarescu – Romania – Cartarescu is poet and prose writer. In Cartarescu’s youth he was a rebellious poet of the “Blue Jeans Generation,” writing quick playful poetry; however after maturation he has become a writer of more international standard. He is the most well known contemporary Romanian writer, of its current generation of writers – many of whom he has mentored and taught; one of them being the Romanian [prose] poet Doina Ioanid.  Cartarescu’s work describes the chaos of life, with absolute confidence and precision. In a way the author is able to organize the chaotic mess that he writes about into a coherent form; allowing for the sense of chaos to be seen but not confuse the reader. Like many great writers before him, Cartarescu has a literary city – and that city is Bucharest; a city in his work that is described with mythological proportions, and a place where nightmares and dreams clash and come true. Much like Fernando Pessoa’s Lisbon, or James Joyce’s Dublin, or the Cairo of Mahfouz; or Kafka’s Prague.

Jon Fosse – Norway – Fosse is a name that is continually spotted on all lists, that speculate about the Nobel Prize for Literature. Fosse is a writer who has written: novels, short stories, children’s books, essays and most importantly plays. Fosse is Europe’s most performed playwright, and has been compared to Beckett and Pinter. However Fosse pares back the human experience in his plays, to a half banal and half mystical like format, creating almost performance plays based around sparse language that uses pauses and breaks, to discuss the human condition. His prose is no different, moving between banal and mystical, and is equally as sparse, and short, but often moving, poetic, but also claustrophobic; as well as a bit difficult to grasp upon first reading.

Magdalena Tulli – Poland – Magdalena Tulli has a small output of books. Four of her books have been translated into English; where a recently sixth book, published in Poland back in two-thousand and fourteen titled: “Szum,” which translates roughly as: “Noise.” With the exception of her most recent output, Tulli’s novels so far, are inclined towards the idea of creating worlds, and stories, in a metafictional universe. Tulli’s recent work: “Italian Pumps,” and “Noise,” are more concerned with the darkest days of the Second World War, and how history invades the personal; but they deal with memory, and becoming the master of memory and fate. Tulli herself comes from a family tree that includes: Italo Calvino, and Borges, as well as the late Marquez. Her earlier works construct and deconstruct concepts of stories and what a story is. Despite this postmodernism preoccupation with metafiction, her prose is divine. Her sentences click with nouns, move with verbs, and are surpassingly astonishing with metaphors and descriptions. Though her ‘small,’ output maybe a hindrance. But her novels are well architected cities; whose base materials are cheap words that are refined and manufactured into great works of achievements.

Sirkka Turkka – Finland – Finland’s writers often appear to have an affinity for nature. Natural landscapes and animals are as much characters to the writers, as are their neighbours or the stranger on the train or the person walking down the street. Sirkka Turkka is an embodiment of this in her poetry and prose. Dogs and horses are often held close to her heart; both are empathetic creatures, which embody more of the ideal form of the human spirit than most human beings. Ravens, reindeer, elk, fox – these are creatures that are Turkka depicts as, wiser than human beings, and embody a primeval and primordial wisdom in their often archaic humane teachings. Turkka’s poetry is precise and lucid. It references both literary culture (like Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,”) but also popular culture, with quotes from pop songs, or rock lyrics. By all means a quiet talent, that writes about nature and animals, as the world appears to enter greater environmental and climate disaster.

Petr Král – Czech Republic – If Beckett was the last modernist and the first postmodernist, Král is then perhaps in the traditional sense of the term: the last surrealist. In his earlier years, Král was known as a surrealist. He had immigrated to France in nineteen-sixty eight, and became a student of surrealism, but later abandoned it. The themes and preoccupations of Král is an eternal longing. This yearning has become central to his meditations and works. He searches for the essences of something gone or past. This search becomes a longing for another time, wrapped in nostalgia, and eventually comes the individual. Identity and the places we inhabit, become instrumental to the human experience, and Král is a writer that scourges the past and its lost shadows, in order to discuss the present and its dilemmas. Yet he is also an observer of the small inconsequential moments of being; often through objects: a fresh shirt, the relief of urination, crossing a street, or the time of day.

László Krasznahorkai – Hungary – It were to appear, that any time that anytime László Krasznahorkai, is nominated for a literary prize, he swoops in to take it. This includes two Best Translated Book Awards, and The Man Booker International Prize. Krasznahorkai is the literary darling of the Hungarian literary scene; that has found a place not just in his home country, but also is well renowned in Germany and, in English speaking countries, who read his work. He is a follower of Samuel Beckett and Thomas Bernhard, in regards to the slight humour of his prose, and his avoidance of paragraph breaks; and the often long winding sentences, become slow moving rivers of black texts of lava. This often leads his work to have a sense of apocalyptic claustrophobia. Krasznahorkai is a difficult writer; but also a rewarding writer. He is the master of the apocalypse, and a poet of impending doom. Yet the language itself is a complete contrast the writers themes and works. It is beautiful winding and poetic.

Kiki Dimoula – Greece – The two former writers who have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, that where from Greece, where both poets: Giorgos Seferis and Odysseas Elytis. Dimoula is the grand dame of contemporary Greek poetry. Her poetry’s most striking feature is the sparseness of the poems. The amount of white that lurks around the pages, becomes startling and even frightening; as if somehow the poems are underdeveloped and in the process of being undeveloped, the paper is wasted, for a few marks on a page, organized in a line format. However overtime one comes to see the whiteness of the page, is as instrumental to Kiki Dimoula’s poetry as the few words presented on the page. Her poetry often deals with disillusionment, oblivion and faded memory; but also the anxieties and insecurities of the modern man. Her work is filled with oblique photographs worn out by time, houses moved out of, and reoccupied, and forgotten or lost memories. Yet through it all there is always a sense of hope to her work, however smaller, it is there.

António Lobo Antunes – Portugal – Antunes is a postmodernist writer; and as it seems to be with postmodernist writer, he has written rather lengthy novels. His writing style is best compared to that of Samuel Beckett, Thomas Bernhard, or László Krasznahorkai. They are large one manic monologue, which are dense and disorienting. Narrative voices, struggle to find a voice on the page, and compete to state their lines. Yet beneath the density of his work, there is a simmering rage. An anger that stems from Antunes own experience as a doctor during Portugal’s part in the colonial wars. His works often have manic narrators, recounting their histories, that showcase Portugal’s beauty but also its dark and brutal past; not only on itself with Salazar the fascist dictator of the country; but also the colonial brutality. Despite its vitriolic stream-of consciousness late-modernist experimentation of his work; as one commentator has stated there’s a sense of poetry to his work.

Javier Marias – Spain – Marias is a beloved Spanish writer, and is well known in the English speaking world. Many well grounded and regarded English writes, have sung praise about his works. Is this perhaps because, Marias has an affinity with the English language – after studying English Philology – and translating some of the classics into Spanish; and lecturing at Oxford on translation? Perhaps; but no. I do think that Marias stands on his own ground, as a writer. His works deal with betrayal, the nature of time, forgery and translation. Marias strikes me as the kind of writer, who wishes to supersede and transcend the barriers and boundaries of culture and language; and write about the human experience – which could explain why his characters lose their own voice in favors of others, as they mimic or parrot the views of others. This is why Marias often calls his characters cousins or literary brothers, in their escape of their own identities and voices for that of others.

Doris Kareva – Estonia – Doris Kareva is a poet of the personal. The personal emotional experience of the individual is one ripple of a drop that reflects the entire ocean of the human experience, and the universality of the human experience in the thought of fluid emotions and feelings. Kareva connects the personal to the natural as well as the metaphysical. Kareva is also noted as one of Estonia’s global and universal writers. Her work has been translated into over eighteen languages, and is an accomplished translator herself. However the poetry of Kareva is also quite, miniaturist in nature. Not economical which may seem like the poet is attempting to be fiscally responsible with their words – rather its simple stating what needs to be said with the greatest impact placed on the words chosen and their phrases in which they work.

Adam Zagajewski – Poland – A Neustadt International Prize for Literature Laureate; Zagajewski is one of Poland’s most renowned contemporary poets He is a compatriot of Czesław Miłosz and Wisława Szymborska. However since the end of communism, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the themes of Zagajewski have since mellowed. However, that does not mean that the poets work has diminished. Rather than tackling themes of sociopolitical stances, the themes that Zagajewski now in turns tackles are far more existential and philosophical in nature. That past is rendered in the present, often in the most mundane and everyday events.

Gyrðir Elíasson – Iceland – Poet and prose writer, Elíasson straddles both worlds. In his short stories or fragments or vignettes or sketches, Elíasson as a poet comes through. His prose works are known for being very short – be it short stories in impressionistic vignette forms or his novels condescend into novellas. Elíasson is a writer, who will attract readers who enjoy their work condescend and in a miniature format. He is one of Iceland’s most renowned writers, and has gone on to receive the Nordic Council’s Prize for Literature. Despite Iceland being known for their Saga’s, Elíasson is a champion of the minute. Despite this his work is not by any means lightweight that cannot compete with larger tomes of novels. Rather Elíasson has the ability to write about the big with the least amount of verbose requirements as other writers.

Irena Vrkljan – Croatia – Vrkljan is one of those unique writers, who belong more to language than they do to national states. In the same vein as Nobel Laureate Herta Müller (German language and Romanian birth), Vrkljan was Yugoslavian (now Croatian) at birth, but writes in German. However, Vrkljan has not received the warmest of welcomes in Germany. She writes in German and translates her work into Croatian. Vrkljan is both poet and prose writer. Her prose is marked by poetic fragments of memory, imagination, and autobiography. She is often described as a ‘women writer,’ but Vrkljan is not strictly a feminist writer. If anything Vrkljan is a writer who chronicles the female experience, simply because that is her gender. She is not a writer of politics of sex. Her work is best described as ‘distant writing,’ and a alien experience of writing in a language which disposes her and detaches her from national borders.

Pierre Michon – France – Michon is an interesting author. His writing is dense and intense. It’s not poetic babble though; at the same time Michon is a writer that requires patience. His writing is filled with a unique blend of language, which can be a frustrating read. His work is dense, and if you are used to reading fast, then Michon’s merits would be lost on that reader; as I had learned from reading his novel: “Small Lives.” Yet Michon is an author interested in the lives of artists as presented in his novella’s “Masters and Servants,” but also the artist filling their niche, in regards to their place in history like “Eleven.” Michon is also interested in history – in the not well known sense, and writes beautiful passages in regards to the obscure people he can write about: “Winter Mythologies & Abbots.” Michon explores the microcosm in its place to the grander macrocosm of not only the world but also the universe.

Cees Nooteboom – The Netherlands – Nooteboom is considered the best Dutch contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature. The authors oeuvre is varied. Nooteboom has written travel writing and essays, novels, short stories, and poetry. The author’s novels have been compared to that of Italo Calvino and Vladimir Nabokov – writing post-modern fables, that engulf the oddities of twentieth century and the now early twenty first century in its ethereal, whimsical and cerebral disorganized self. His works painstakingly remind the reader, that all novels are an inherent self-absorbed act of human validation; but go on to tackle such themes as wanderlust, in a jet-fueled world. The idea of ‘home,’ becomes an almost academic thought. His travel writing is often considered his best pieces of work – coming out in five volumes alone. He is by all means an international author, one that deals with a sense of displacement in an ever greater connected and seemingly smaller world.

Svetlana Aleksijevitj – Belarus – Aleksijevitj is an investigative journalist, and writer. Her two known works to English readers are: “Voices from Chernobyl,” and “Zinky Boys.” The first deals with the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of the late eighties, and “Zinky Boys,” details the accounts of conscripted soviet soldiers in the Afghanistan. Other than that, not a lot is known about Aleksijevitj work in English. Her output is small, but is well revered and regarded by many who have read her work, both in English translation and Russian. She depicts life during Soviet occupation and post-soviet life, with the impartial eye of a journalist; but with the sympathetic ear for the emotional stories, that are told and transcribed in her work.

Tõnu Õnnepalu – Estonia – Õnnepalu is often considered a ‘eurowriter,’ before he is considered an Estonian writer. His themes are open to the varied experience of an individual abroad. Õnnepalu himself had lived as an expat in Paris for some time. Before he rose to prominence on the literary scene; Õnnepalu was known as a poet; but it was his debut novel “Border State,” that had won him acclaim. The novel is lyrically charged, about a expatriate (homosexual) man who had murdered his lover/partner, and discuss his past of “the other country,” and his new life in France. Both are juxtaposed; and both are found to be terrible in their own unique ways: the oppression and paranoia of the other (old) country; and the materialistic nihilism of a western country. What makes Õnnepalu a unique writer, is that he has done away with national traditions and preoccupations, in favour of his own; which has opened up him to the greater literary world.

Péter Nadas – Hungary – Nadas has been compared to Proust, for his preoccupation with the past and memory.  Yet perhaps he is often compared to Proust, because of his absurdly long books. “Parallel Stories,” for example is extraordinarily large and long novel, at a page count of one thousand five hundred and twenty pages; and it is no wonder that book alone took eighteen years to write. There is a certain personal bias to Nadas and his books. They are large, and take a long time to write; which will always lead to a sense of preapproved judgement to be passed; this obliviously leaves a sense of suspicion of his work and what he writes about. Yet Nadas door stopper books are renowned for their stylistic tendencies. Yet his work is often called: detailed, innovative, but also demanding

Olga Tokarczuk – Poland – Tokarczuk is one of Poland’s greatest writers. She is applauded by both critics and readers. Her works are best described as magical realism; which often mixes the real world with stranger and eccentric oddities – be it contemporary or historical periods. Tokarczuk’s most famous novel (at least to English readers) is “Primeval and Other Times.” The novel recounts a village where the joys and sorrows of life meet. Yet it is the eccentric characters of the village, which brings the village and book to life. The novel contains a woman who loves her dogs and is pursued by the moon; to an aristocrat that withdraws from the world, and plays a “rabbi games,” to discover the secrets of the world. The most loving aspect of Tokarczuk’s writing is her accessibility. In the author’s own words: “To me writing novels is telling fairy tales to oneself, moved to maturity.”

Drajo Jančar – Slovenia – Jančar is Slovenia’s most prominent contemporary writer. The themes of Jančar’s works come from the early modernist traditions. His novels are characterized by the individuals struggle against oppressive institutions: prisons, psychiatric hospitals, military barracks and galleys or ships – or an oppressive society in the form of a dictatorship or a totalitarian regime. However despite the heaviness of these themes, he is known for his laconic and highly ironic writing style; often utilizing tragicomic events, to lighten the mood and twist the novel into different directions. Most of his novel take place in historical era settings (presumably twentieth century) Eastern Europe, as a metaphor for the human condition. Even though Jančar is a novelist and short story writer, he is also known for his essays and political engagements and civic commentaries.

Lyudmila Petrushevskaya – Russia –Petrushevskaya is a Russian figure akin to that of Homer of Ancient Greece. Reading one of her stories often has the sense the story itself is being transcribed from over hearing someone else gossip or discuss the said action of the story that unfolds. The stories are like twisted dark fairytales, or heartbroken tales of love, and romance now rotten. Petrushevskaya is not a political author; yet she was not able to publish during the Soviet period; for the sole reason that she did not meet party approved propaganda standards. She on the other hand displayed and wrote about the cruel truths of the ‘home,’ of the everyday individual and all their difficulties. For this she was accused of ‘darkening reality.’ Yet what has, been accomplished in the end is a witches brew of wisdom, irony and honesty. 

Australia & Oceania –

[ Not much to say; if the list is supposed attempt to accurately represent writers from all over the world, then it should do its best to represent all of them equally. ]

Gerald Murnane – Australia – The dark horse and recluse of Australian letters; Murnane is no bush writer, or outback poet. Rather, he is the introspective and contemplative writer of Australian letters. One will be hard pressed to find one of his novels shortlisted or even mentioned for the Booker Prize. He is the kind of author, only a few readers speak of in hushed whispers, in order not to betray the secret of the author and his books. It should be noted Murnane is not what some would call a: cosmopolitan writer. Murnane has never left Australia and has in fact secluded himself to the province of Victoria, leaving to see other parts of Australia only a handful of times. It may sound parochial but no more than other writes, with their peculiar proclivity to their own homes. Despite this the fiction of Murnane is far more traveled. The author taught himself how to read Hungarian. Murnane is just the dark horse of Australian letters. He is not boisterous or self-promoting. His work finds its readers, and speaks for itself.

Asia & the Indo-Sub continent –

[ My greatest disappointment with this part of this list, first and foremost, is the lack of writers from India that I do not have a knowledge of. India is a vast country, with numerous languages. This makes it difficult to find a writer, who can be considered Nobel worthy. With the death of Vijaydan Detha in two-thousand and thirteen, it appears that Indian writers may be overlooked for a while yet. Below I could only include one Indian writer, who I knew of. Whether or not the fact that she writes in English hinders her or not, I cannot say. – Second below are three South Korean writers. It should come to no surprise that like China, South Korea is lobbying for a Nobel Prize for Literature; failing to understand that the Nobel Prize for Literature is awarded to the individual, not the country. The Nobel’s are not the Olympics. However it should be noted, that South Korea, has truly pushed and worked to get many South Korean writers, into international markets. ]

Anita Desai – India – Gabriel Garcia Marquez was the man who started the Latin American Boom, and made magical realism a literary genre; then Desai spear headed what would become the Lyrical India. She is often compared to Virginia Woolf, and introduced the psychological novel format into India. Her works are often considered in the vein of realism; but they often delve into the drifting hapless and worlds on the brink of extinction. For Desai the future is not at the top of the later, but rather a back door found in memories. Memories become attempts at finding something tangible or prosaic to grasp in order to cease a world from vanish from reality. Three times Desai has been nominated for the Booker Prize, and has yet to win. Her literal language is English – a fact that she has proclaimed, was not something decided on in a conscious manner. Her works are exotic and yet at cosmopolitan at the same time. Her novel “The Zigzag way,” was set in Mexico – a country that Desai has a particular fondness for.

Ko Un – South Korea – Much like Adunis, Ko Un is a perennial favorite. He is a zen poet, and a very approachable poet. His poetry steps out of the ivory tower; and is the work of someone who has lived a varied life, and observed the horrors that have split his country apart. If you can count on anything from Ko Un, in his poetry it is gentle grace, wisdom, and a truly understood sense of compassion for everything. There is a lighthearted touch to the poet’s poems; but also a tangible sense of sorrow of events that have passed. Un is the kind of poet I turn to on the whims of a moment, for graceful honesty and a sympathetic ear, and empathetic understanding when needed.  He is not a foreboding poet, but an approachable writer. To read his poems is like walking through a garden with the poet, and coming to a mutual understanding of the world.

Kazue Shinkawa – Japan – A chameleon poet, and also one of the great motherly figures of Japan’s contemporary poetry. Kazue Shinkawa, is one of the poets who reaches beyond one poetic school or movement. She is both a surrealist describing and discussing metaphysical concepts, next she has written an ode to water and memory, then a lyricist master, a epicist of grand story telling feats, and a earnest confessor. Despite these numerous qualities Shinkawa is a poet nonetheless. Chameleon or nomad, she is a poet of profound talents. She has written more than thirty volumes of verse (and that includes her volumes of poetry for children). Upon discovery of Shinkawa, on the website: poetryinternational; there is an honesty and clarity to her poetry. No pretentions and no sense of being locked out of the poetry itself. It is lived, it is welcoming, and it is enjoyable.

Oh-Jung Hee – South Korea – Hee is often dubbed the Virginia Woolf of South Korea. She takes a feminist stance, against South Korea’s prevalent patriarch and male dominated society. Her earlier work was imagistic, and fragmented; over time however they have softened, and her work has veered discussions about domesticity and the lives of women in South Korea. Her works however are socially and historically aware, of the turbulent past of Korea. They detail the effects of the war, and eventual crackdown on society, both from children’s perspectives, and perspectives from the home; and how the war had fragmented and split up families. In this sense, Oh-Jung Hee is more than just a chronicler of the home – from the windows of apartments and houses; she views an arbitrary history, and society, that has infected the homes of many and destroyed the lives of countless individuals.

Pai Hsien-yung – Taiwan – Pai Hsien-yung was one of the first Chinese modernists. I had stumbled across Hisen-yung, while looking into validation, on Mu Xin’s death. It had turned out that Mu Xin had passed away, and much like Eileen Chang – without a Nobel. However Mu Xin, was a great writer, and perhaps one of the last great Chinese writers to embody the traditional (or old) Chinese education.  Hisen-yung is described as a melancholic pioneer, and his work is known to introduce controversial material into Chinese literature; such as his novel “Crystal Boys,” which describes transient homosexual youths in Taipei. Yet his most famous book is a collection of short stories called: “Taipei People,” which is often compared to James Joyce “Dubliners.” The short story collection “Taipei People,” recounts and depicts those who fled Mainland China, during the Resistance War of Japanese occupation, and the eventual formation of the Peoples Republic of China. Its sensibility is reminiscent and melancholic, and is considered a groundbreaking book.

Hwang Sok-yong – South Korea – Homelessness is a theme of the South Korean author Hwang Sok-yong; both the home of one’s memory, and the literal loss of a home. Sok-yong has described Korea, as a homeless nation.  His works depict this, as they depict the divide of the nation in the physical sense and in the ideological sense. The psychology of home becomes instrumental for Sok-yong’s work. The loss of a community and the subsequent solidarity foreshadows his books, and the damaging impact is reverberated throughout an individual’s life. Despite the concepts and themes of displacement, the work often details the need and the attempts at building a home up for the ashes and the rubble; and once again creating a sense of community both literal and symbolic, and once again creating a home.

Can Xue – China – Xue is best described as China’s Kafka. She is a self-trained writer, whose work is known for its absurd and surreal qualities. If her name – a pseudonym; shows a surreal and often duality to reality – it can mean dirty snow, that refuses to melt; or the purest snow on mountain peaks. Xue’s work is often noted for his high experiments with prose and form. However Can Xue describes her work as: “soul literature,” or “life literature.” Her works are known for their demanding form and style. Her work is often cited as being imagistic and utilizing stream of consciousness like writing to often delve into her themes which unexpectedly change between personal and impersonal frequently; she also plays with the idea of perspective and the flow and sequence of time. It is often stated that Can Xue has taken the avant-garde as far as it can go. She has written numerous short stories, four novels, essays and criticism.

Mieko Kanai – Japan – Kanai has published short stories, novels and poetry. The writing of Kanai is often described as: abstract. Her work is surreal and experimental, with a penchant for the grotesque. Here themes deal with the complexities of relationships, as well as identity; especially the ‘psychic,’ problem of: “the other self who does not exist.” This other self often comes in the form of individuals or characters that mimic the actions and even the lives of other characters, right down to the miniscule details of the other character. This play of identity is often considered a reflection of the relationship between: writer, the reader and the characters. One of her greatest attributes is how her short stories are often compressed to the point that they can become multifaceted stones or crystals, which offers a new or perspective to a story; where choices made or the sequence of time or even events change; creating a dream logic landscape.

Bei Dao – China – There has always been speculation that if (and when) a Chinese writer would receive the Nobel Prize for Literature; the best bet would have been Bei Dao. Dao is the forefront poet of Misty Poets; a group of poets who wrote ambiguous and obscure poems, that defied the Cultural Revolution and its restrictive censorship. For this Dao was forced to become a dissident. However he returned to Hong Kong as its Professor of Humanities in the Centre of East Asian Studies. However with the recent crackdown and protests in Hong Kong and the proposed reforms to the education system, one can only wonder. Dao has six collections of poems to his name, and a collection of new and selected poems released five years ago. Along with his poetry he has written a collection of short stories, essays and memoirs.

South America & Latin America; with the Caribbean –

[ It is an interesting fact Gentle Reader that the most publications in the Spanish language, has moved away from Spain, and to the southern equator. South and Latin America produces now the majority of Spanish language literature, and also consumes the most Spanish language literature. An interesting feat, which means South and Latin America are now more predominate on the literary map. ]

Elena Poniatowska – Mexico – If one were to say: the Grand Dame of Mexican letters, they are referring to Elena Poniatowska.  Poniatowska is a journalist, whose main has been social and political issues; especially those concerning the disenfranchised: the poor and women. Journalism and her firm commitment to contemporary issues and history, won her the Premio Cervantes prize in two-thousand and thirteen; being the fourth woman to win the award. However despite this, her main enjoyment has been creative writing. Much like her journalist writings, her creative work, shows a similar soft spot for the disenfranchised. Her writing style is colloquial and is realistic to the details of the individuals its represents, and portrays. Social issues and human rights as well as dignities. Her work is best described as writing in an ideal direction.  

Ricardo Piglia – Argentina – Piglia is one of the most critically acclaimed South American contemporary writers of his generation. He has written novels, short stories, and criticism. Piglia is a post-boom writer with postmodernist tendencies. His works take the form of ‘paranoid fiction,’ where everyone and every character, is a suspect of the novel – which at times take the form of a detective style novel. However Ricardo Piglia does not fall into the already set out formula of the detective novel. Much like Pamuk with “The Black Book,” and “My Name is Red,” – the detective novel, is merely a format or a loose stylistic characteristic, which formats the novel or story. Piglia’s narratives mimic the hysteria of life; and the endless bombardment of chaos, and testimonies that contradict each other. 

Circe Maia – Uruguay – Circe Maia is a national treasure of Uruguay. She has lived through political upheavals. Once her husband was arrested for his political involvements, and she was spared only because she had just given birth to her youngest daughter at the time. The dictatorship and personal tragedy had caused Maia to become silent. However, upon the fall of the civil-military dictatorship, Circe Maia began writing verse once again. Maia’s style is direct, sombre and conversational in nature. She has explained that poetry is by no means an act of obscuring the language to hide the meaning. Rather poetry is the blooming of language, to show the meanings of a multitude of subjects. This allows her poetry to become conversational in tone, as if the poem and the reader, were conversing as though they were good friends talking over a cup of coffee in the morning.

Rodrigo Rey Rosa – Guatemala – Rosa is an author who flies under the radar. His works are based around myths and folktales of his native Latin America as well as those of North Africa. His novel “The African Shore,” was shortlisted for the Best Translated Book Award. He has been praised by the late Roberto Bolano, as being of the best authors of their generation. His works are international, yet are grounded in the myths of his homeland and that of North Africa. He is not a typecast Latin American Boom author; but someone who rejects the term or idea of Magical Realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and instead goes into more mystical realms, of legend and myth. Rosa is an author whose work stands on its own; and his obscurity or rather the lack of information on his personal life, make all that much more difficult to comprehend as a writer. Though I have not read his work (yet) I have been watching his output closely.

Cesar Aira – Argentina – Aira is a prolific author – to the point of being a industrious writing factory, churning out words; like a factory churns out textile goods. Aira is known to publish between two and four novella length books a year. However what is unique about Aira is his writing style. Rather than edit and make revisions, Aira utilizes a technique he calls “flight forward.” When he begins to see that he is writing himself in a trap, he changes direction of the book. In a sense it’s a literary improvisation, as Aira’s style changes, and even using less literary genres like pulp science fiction, or a soap opera to help keep the story moving. His works are always in a continual movement never losing momentum.

Maryse Condé – Guadeloupe – Condé is one of those great writers that have yet to find their recognition from the rest of the world. It was not until the 2015 “Man Booker International Prize,” that I had finally learned about Maryse Condé. The themes of Condé are oppression, race, gender, but most importantly the search for an identity, and social justice in a post-colonial world. Maryse Condé writes about the complexities of human destiny, and probes the social injustices in which we perpetrate upon each other: be it from superiority or from our own kin. These complexities (usually in a historical setting), become the grounds in which Condé develops her themes. Yet her work is not blaming any particular group over another. It is a quest of identity in the African Diaspora, but also the quest for social justice, that eludes all.  

Frankétienne – Hati – He was rumored to be on the shortlist for the two-thousand and nine Nobel Prize for Literature, and then once again, on the two-thousand and eleven award. Frankétienne is Hati’s leading intellectuals and writers. His work is explosive, and creates a unique use of language; often utilizing neologisms. This being said, Frankétienne’s work can also be quiet scathing, and almost vulgar in its depictions of sex and violence. If Wole Soyinka was a writer who was close to the Yoruba people’s myths and folklore; than Frankétienne is a writer of voodoo roots. His paintings, poetry, and prose often radiates with a, certain mysticism.

In The End: Closing Thoughts –

There we have it Gentle Reader, the Nobel Speculation list for 2015. Though generally I give myself a limit of fifty writers, this year there are fifty-three. I am not accountant, and decided not to play the game of: debits and credits, with this list. The stats with this year’s list are as follows:

34 – Male writers
19 – Female writers
53 – Writers total

Three nationalities received three speculated writers: Estonia, Poland, and South Korea. Both Estonia and Poland have two female writers, and one male writer. They are respectively listed via appearance on the list below:

Estonia – Viivi Luik, Doris Kareva, and Tonu Õnnepalu

Poland – Magdalena Tulli, Adam Zagajewski, and Olga Tokarczuk

South Korea however is the opposite, with two male writers, and one female writer. They are respectively listed via appearance on the list:

Ko Un, Oh-Jung Hee, and Hwang Sok-yong

On average author and national state represented are one or two writers.

From my knowledge only two writers on this list write in English, they are as follows:

Gerald Murnane, Australia
Anita Desai, India

In the end though Gentle Reader, I cannot proclaim any writer will win or will not. The list attempts to bring to attention numerous authors from a multitude of countries and languages. These authors may generally be overlooked by other speculations or betting websites. Though in the end, until the announcement comes in October, there is no real way of knowing, who this year’s Laureate will be. Though I suspect it will be an interesting year, and hopefully it’ll be a writer who deserves the recognition – on literary merit. My advice, don’t place any bets on this horse race – you won’t see the horses, and you may not even know if your own horse got out of the gate.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary

Monday 10 August 2015

Announcement: Nobel Prize for Literature 2015 Speculation List

 Hello Gentle Reader,

Once again it is that time of year. Nobel Prize for Literature speculation is once again underway. My personalized list will be coming this Friday: August 14th 2015.

Here are a quick set of stats for the upcoming list; which will be reiterated with the list.

A total of 53 writers have been included.
34 of them are men.
19 of them are women.

Writers by geographical area:

Africa – 6 writers
North Africa & Middle East – 6 writers
Europe – 24 writers
Australia & Oceania – 1 writer
Asia & the Indo-Subcontinent – 9
South & Latin America; Including the Caribbean – 7

To see the full list, and included writers, please come back Friday: August 14th 2015, to see the complete list.

Now, I’d like to take the time to discuss some honorable mentions; of writers who have not been included on the list. They may not be well known, but I have had the pleasure of stumbling across these writers before.

Honorable Mentions –

Kaarina Valoaalto – Finland – Her work blends poetry and prose, and often creates some of the most unique works, that I have had the pleasure of sampling. It was thanks to “Books From Finland,” as well “Transcript,” that I was able to discover and read this writer’s work. However, her work is not translated into English – with the exception snippets that can be discovered here and there. Because of this almost exclusiveness of her work not being administered to other languages (from my understanding) it seems Valoaalto (or lightwave) is left to be undiscovered. Still if there is a great writer of almost folk art roots, it is Kaarina Valoaalto.

Romualdas Lankauskas – Lithuania – Lankauskas is Lithuanian’s grand master of letters. He is a painter, playwright, and a productive prose writer. He is well known for his short stories, which are written in his laconic writing style. During Lithuania’s communist Lankauskas was known as an opponent of the system and the ideological restraints placed upon Lithuania’s citizens. This often put him at ends with the then reigning ideology of the time. However Lankauskas has survived, and continues to write. I came across him in “The Dedalus Book of Lithuanian Literature.” The greatest opponent of Lankauskas is most likely a lack of translation, which inevitably leads to a lack of any international or world stage presence on the literary map.

Jacques Poulin – Canada (Québec) – I would have liked to include Jacques Poulin on this speculative list. Unfortunately two aspects work against Poulin. They are the fact that in two-thousand and thirteen, Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and in two-thousand and fourteen, Patrick Modiano, won the Nobel Prize for Literature. One is a Canadian master of the short story; and the other is a French writer who investigates the past and the unreliability of memory. Jacques Poulin is a French-Canadian writer; meaning that the two preceding years work against his favour it were to seem; being as one is a Canadian and the other a French language author. Still Poulin is one of the most wonderful writers, in which I have had the pleasure of reading.

William Trevor – Ireland – William Trevor is now eighty seven years old (the age in which Doris Lessing had received her own Nobel Prize for Literature; and in doing so had become the oldest Nobel Laureate in its history.) William Trevor is often considered another master practitioner of the short story. However his work goes beyond the short story; despite it being his most famous genre, in which he works in. Trevor is also a accomplished novelist; and has written children’s books, plays, and two collections of non-fiction work. Trevor is considered one of the greatest English language writers heralding from Ireland, and has been nominated for the Booker Prize five times; the most recent in two-thousand and nine with “Love and Summer.”

The Nonagenarian Triplets –

Yves Bonnefoy – France – Poet, essayist, and art critic; Bonnefoy is considered France’s greatest poet. Though now at the tender age of ninety two, Bonnefoy has it were to seem passed the age to be considered a Nobel Laureate. Yet his poems are known for their starkness combined with a deeply felt sensuality, with a continual yearning for some ‘other place.’

Friederike Mayröcker – Austria – The Vienna poet is famous for being unable to write outside of her home, and city of Vienna. Mayröcker is known for her hermetic existence, surrounded by piles and mountains of notes and paper in her apartment. Mayröcker is also known for her relationship with fellow poet Ernst Jandl. She often proclaimed as the greatest Austrian poet of her time. Though now ninety, it appears that the Nobel has also passed her by.

Philippe Jaccottet – Switzerland – Jaccottet is a Swiss poet, who writes in French. He is an accomplished poet, and in two-thousand and fourteen was published in the famous and renowned Bibliothèque de la Pléiade – translation: “Pleiades Library.” It is very rare for a living French writer to be published within the library; but Jaccottet is only one of fifteen writers to be published in the library alive, and the fourth Swiss writer to be included. Now though at the tender age of ninety much like Bonnefoy and Mayröcker; Jaccottet’s chances of a Nobel Prize are limited.

Lest We Forget –

There have been numerous writers, who did not receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. Often this is called the: Nobel Snub. Why or why not, is not entirely certain all the time. The list includes hundreds upon thousands of writer’s. Many of those writers where some of biggest names of their time: Leo Tolstoy, , James Joyce, Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, Jorge Luis Borges and Vladimir Nabokov. Then there are writes who do not get proclaimed for not being awarded: Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, and Carlos Fuentes. 

 The following is a list of some writers who I have enjoyed, but did not receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Clarice Lispector – Brazil – As I write this, the greater world has fallen more and more in love with Clarice Lispector; the witch of Brazilian letters. Her work often puts her in her own category without a rival or competitor in sight. Her work moves between modernism, surrealism, postmodernism, satire, and mystical introspection. Now with the publication of her “Complete Stories,” thanks New Directions, readers are falling under the spell of Brazil’s feline featured writer. She is a writer of almost cult status, and yet she is a writer that continuously worked in her own fashion, never to the fashion of others. She could slip from philosophy to phantasmagoria with sentences of each other. However Lispector unfortunately passed away in nineteen-seventy seven; she was only fifty seven years old. Now however, Lispector is considered one of the greatest writers of Brazil.

Antonio Tabucchi – Italy – I had often hoped before his own untimely death in two-thousand and twelve, that Antonio Tabucchi would take the Nobel Prize for Literature. He always appeared like the perfect writer. He was a great short story writer, and novelist; he was engaged with intellectual ideas, and leaned politically to the left, often opposing fascism and dictatorships (such as Salazar’s). But Tabucchi was more than all that. He was an accomplished scholar of the mystical Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. His works very rarely disappointed me (with one exception). “Peirra Declares,” remains of my favorite books, which opposes oppression and fascism, without becoming overtly political in nature. However it is Tabucchi’s stories that always continue to be enjoyed.

Ryūnosuke Akutagawa – Japan – One of the greatest literary disasters, is Akutagawa’s suicide. It would have been extraordinary to see what greater works this grandfather of the Japanese short story, could have produced. But unfortunately with a fragile mental state, and a traumatized mind, Akutagawa committed suicide at the age of thirty-five years old. His ability to unite Western sensibilities with Japanese traditions and cultures, in a sense lead the way for other great twentieth century writers like: Yasunari Kawabata and Osamu Dazai.

Vijaydan Detha – India – He was considered India’s equivalent to Shakespeare, and was known for his folk tales. Detha was perhaps the greatest Indian writer, for the Nobel Prize for Literature. However, Detha had passed away at the age of eighty-seven in two-thousand and thirteen. In two-thousand and eleven, Detha was speculated to be a serious contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature. However Detha never did receive the accolade. Still he is considered a colossus of Indian literature and Rajasthani language literature. Still he is immensely popular and beloved by many of his faithful readers.

Mu Xin – China – It was herald in two-thousand and four that when Elfriede Jelinek became that year’s Nobel Laureate, was a disaster; when Mo Yan became the Nobel Laureate for Literature, in two-thousand and twelve, would best be described as a catastrophe. If any Chinese writer should have become a Nobel Laureate, it should have been Mu Xin. Xin was a classically trained writer, and perhaps one of the greatest writers that I have had the pleasure of reading. His work is more akin to the classical texts of Chinese literature, than to that of the contemporary works that are written in the now reformed cultural texts that Mao had implemented with the Cultural Revolution. “An Empty Room,” a selection of stories by Mu Xin, is one of the most enjoyable works I have read, by a writer. The language is poetic and pristine; his subject matter range(d) from the political to the foreign concept of memory and old age, over tea, voiced by a English young lady living with her aunt and uncle. Mu Xin in my opinion was a more then worthy contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Dulce Maria Loynaz – Cuba – One of the three Marias (Maria Zambrano, Anna Maria Matute), Loynaz is perhaps one of the most graceful poets, which I have stumbled upon; with great thanks to online outlets. Her poetry (from what I could read) often depicted natural beauties and wonders; but also discussed an array of subjects. Dulce Maria Loynaz however, was also a solitary individual; though she traveled extensively, as she aged she became more reclusive, and eventually began to lose her sight. However, recognition did come to Loynaz and her life time of work with the Cervantes Prize. She is the grand dame of Cuban poetry; or Cuba’s own Emily Dickinson; and though discussions are held of whether or not she has any influence over younger poets in Cuba, her poetic accomplishments are noteworthy enough.  


This, my dear Gentle Reader, is all that I can offer for right now as a taste for this year’s speculative list. Above I offered stats on the list, as well as did my best to honour the writers above. We remember those that did not receive the accolade, but have become great writers without the medal and diploma. Please return Friday for the complete list!

Until then Gentle Reader:

Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary

P.S. - The following is a link to the Speculation list: