The Birdcage Archives

Friday 9 October 2015

Post-Nobel Thoughts for 2015

Hello Gentle Reader

This morning I was awoken by my phone and received the following text message:

“Whoever invented knock knock jokes . . . should get a NO-BELL prize!!! Hahaha”

I did not respond to the text message, but decided to let it slide, with a smile; as yesterday everyone would be confronted from my smile, and those brazenly curious or as others would put it: dumb enough; to inquire about my state of euphoria, would soon be met with a monologue on the Nobel Prize for Literature, and of course my readily desire to share the news, that this year’s Nobel Laureate is: Svetlana Alexievich. To be honest, I had said her names so many times, which I began to have less and less troubles articulating and pronouncing her name.

Now the excitement has waned, slightly bit, and it’s time to reflect on this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature.

First off, Sara Danius did a wonderful job in fulfilling her duties as Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, in regards to announcing the award to the public. Upon making her first appearance, Danius appeared slightly nervous and tense, but relaxed and not once got flustered by the flashing cameras or the people. She had acted with stoic decorum and performed the public relations aspect of her position with the Swedish Academy. Even during the short interview after the announcement, Sara Danius took a moment to say the Laureate’s name in English; but once again did not appear frustrated or flustered. Well done to Permanent Secretary Sara Danius!

This year’s Nobel Prize for Literature, is fascinating for a few reasons. First off, the prize went to a woman, in a shorter time frame then was expected. The other fascinating aspect is that for the first time in over 200 hundred years, the Permanent Secertary for the Swedish Academy is a woman. The final interesting aspect of this year’s award, is that Svetlana Alexievich is known more and is classified more as a journalist then the typical suspects for the award i.e.: prose writer, poet, or playwright. When asked if the academy has widened the concept (or definition) of literature, by awarding Alexievich the prize, Sara Danius replied: “I think so.” But stated in a sense that Alexievich has created a new genre of literature all her own; not quite documentary or journalist, and not quite historian academic material either. Rather (and to use Alexievich’s words) she has created a “novel of voices.”

I could not state that my excitement was through the roof, hearing Svetlana Alexievich had received the honour from the Swedish Academy, and got the Nobel nod. But I was happy for her, as I am sure that it must have been a wonderful call to receive, and understand that the speculation has finally ended for her. I do kick myself in the butt, though for not having purchased one of her books (most likely “Voices from Chernobyl,”) sooner; but as it goes someone else always grabs the attention at the last moment.

Though to be honest Gentle Reader, I was secretly hoping for the Finnish poet Sirkka Turkka, to receive this year’s accolade, because of her wonderful poetry that reminds me of the earthly wisdom of WisÅ‚awa Szymborska, with a certain soft spot and love for animals of all kinds; often using them to create wonderful poetic metaphors and images. But there is time – or so I hope. Rest assured Turkka I have not given up on you.

Looking back now, over the past few years of the Nobel Prize for Literature, it would seem that the Swedish Academy is honouring both writers and literary forms. The two most paramount literary awards that have finally received overdue recognition so far have been the short story: with Alice Munro in two-thousand and thirteen; and creative non-fiction (or journalism) now with Svetlana Alexievich. Now this is not to state, that past Laureates had not written in these forms, but both Alice Munro and Svetlana Alexievich have written and thrived exclusively in these two forms. Is a broader idea and concept of literature emerging? It’s hard to state, but I would not hold my breath for Bob Dylan to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature; and if he did the damage to the prize could possibly be beyond repair.

At the end of the day Gentle Reader I am more than happy for Svetlana Alexievich. I am looking forward to hopefully seeing her entire oeuvre translated into English; in order to truly get a true feeling of the writer, and her works as they chronicle the Soviet and Post-Soviet individual.

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

M. Mary

P.S. My Dear Gentle Reader, after the German Book Prize has been awarded, and the Booker Prize, I will be absent for two weeks, as I am heading out for a bit. I will be back on the 29th of October, with a new a book review for you. 

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