The Birdcage Archives

Tuesday 31 August 2021

The Poet in The Garden

Hello Gentle Reader,
Summer has begun to wane. It burned itself out. The scorching, glaring and oppressive gaze has since softened; if not softened, at least grown more distant. Despite the reprieve from the heat, the damage has already been done. Drought has sown dust. The earth baked and cracked. There's no escape from the discussion regarding the questions of food security and shortages, rising prices and inflation, and continued conversations regarding the conservation of water and limiting its application. Those of a particularly pessimistic nature echo the sentiments of the former British Prime Minister, Edward Heath: "we shall have a harder Christmas than we have known since the war."  As if to spite Heath's words - or all austere doomsayers - as then, and as now: people will endure. If on the grounds alone: what else can they do? A fault of nature, they press on - even if it's more instinctual at its core than cognitive. Even those of the human race cannot deny the primeval governance that perpetually persists within the core of being.
As summer burns off into autumn our temperament shifts. Summer is not even tempered. Summer is a youthful season. It's flighty and flaky. It flirts before shying away in feigned coy innocence the next. It worships the jovial pursuits of youth, which are always oh so temporary and fleeting. it's a time of transient flings, stolen kisses and the awkward first rites and rituals; hidden beneath the canopied trees and spring flowers as silent witnesses, with the grass which cradles each of them equally, as the world and days pass in their leisure. Autumn on the contrary has straightened up. It's more versed in the ways of the world. Not hard lined or hardboiled, but objective nonetheless with a prescription of cynicism measured with irony. There's a clarity to the world. One which sheds all ostentatious fabrications and pretense. Transparency is but honesty's reflection.
When it comes to American poetry, it seems that all poets are compared to their forebearers: Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. The dual gods of the American Pantheon. The earth and the heaven of what defined American poetry. In their shadow and beyond their tutelage spawned further poets who became just as legendary and divine to the American poetic perspective: Robert Frost, who in his own right became a literary cultural institution, whose enduring legacy has been at risk of being characterized as a cliche. The comparison and reflection being arbitrarily juxtaposed towards all poets who dare to produce any work of poetic inclination, as it will inevitably be weighed against either Whitman or Dickinson. In the case of Louise Glück the newest minted Nobel Prize Laureate for Literature, she is weighted against the image of Emily Dickinson, the woman in white; the saint in the garden; the posy poet; the recluse and hermit. In comparing a poet to Dickinson, the first review takes careful aim over the craft, phrasing, and syntax of each line. Emily Dickinson is readily known for her concentrated and compact poem, whose devotion and adherence to a strict personal form to secure sanctity of the soul, has become the yard stick which is applied with indiscriminate force on whether or not new poetry can meet these otherwise subjective and fluid perspectives. Even the Swedish Academy had made reference to the relationship between Emily Dickinson and Louise Glück, especially when referring to the topic of faith (though in all fairness, even Glück herself recognized and paid homage to the Emily Dickinson in her Nobel Lecture). Anders Olsson states that in the same fashion of the transcending poet Emily Dickinson, faith was not a simple subject of belief versus atheism, or enshrined in the realms of pomp and ceremony, and solemn sermons which indoctrinate the being for further orientation into securing their souls readiness for their passing into the realms of heaven or be denied salvation for the cleansing punitive fires of damnation. No, Dickinson, faith surpassed the simpleton dichotomous ignorance of faith as a purely physical and verbal exercise, to be conducted at its pinnacle on Sunday, followed by continued enchantments in prayer in the evening. Faith is not the mortification of the soul by ritual and routine. Faith became a metaphysical perspective, where “Hope is the thing with feathers,” (Dickinson. Poem 254), and so it is with Louise Glück, whose faith does not reside exclusively in a building and is disseminated by a preacher, who instills devotion through threats of eternal suffering, all from the comfort of his pious pulpit, in which to pontificate his pompous decrees. No, in the terms of Louise Glück faith is a personal matter, one that exists within the ethereal confines, and is not encapsulated in either old or new testaments. Faith exists within the home, within the very being of an individual. It can be located within the everyday and the mundane.
Emily Dickinson as a poet is always imagined within the frame of the garden. It is there in that patch of Eden that the woman in white is mythologized into immortality. Gardening was Emily Dickinson’s first claim to fame, where a local paper during her lifetime praised her ability to grow figs, which were considered a rarity of New England. Her niece Martha substantiated the knowledge that Dickinson was a talented gardener, by recounting the lush garden where hyacinths, daffodils, crocuses bloomed in the spring and ripened in the summer; while also recalling those autumnal flowers, such as chrysanthemums crowning Thanksgiving celebrations. All of these and the natural world made their way into the world of Emily Dickinson’s poetry. In her later years, as is common knowledge, they became her emissaries and tokens accompanying her poems to friends and family.  In this Dickinson is a spring poet. Her enduring and endearing love of life seeks to stall or ward off death. In the garden and greenhouse is where Emily Dickinson tended to her faith with all its blooms, growing tendrils, unfurling leaves and sturdy roots.
Louise Glück on the contrary, is the poet laureate of autumn, or more precisely the poet of October. Autumn is the season of maturity and harvesters’ wisdom. When the adoration of summer has expired, it leaves a clear-eyed sense of honesty and transparency in its wake. This is the season and land that Louise Glück resides in. Her poetry sheds all ostentatious ornamentation and recounts with austere autumn certainty the facts with precision. In the poems of Louise Glück the personal is scrutinized with a clinician’s exactness. The truth is laid bare beneath the sterile light of an honest examination. Many of her collections recount the mortification of the personal with meticulous accountancy, which has mistakenly been applied to Glück being referred to as a confessional poet. This assessment is simple if not egregiously incorrect. Confessional poetry is intimate in its burning histrionics. While Louise Glück remains detached, impersonal, as she coldly records the narrative with surgeon’s steel eye. The best poetry of Louise Glück always stems from the work when the poets voice is disembodied like a ventriloquist and gives perspective to others to reflect and provide commentary on the human condition.
In Carol Rumen’s recent installment of her column: “Poem of The Week,” for The Guardian, Rumen singled out Louise Glück’s poem: “The Red Poppy,” from the Pulitzer winning poetry collection: “The Wild Iris.” Carol Rumen first provides the poem, and then a thoughtful afterword analysis. Of course, the speaker of the poem is the tenacious Red Poppy, brilliant and vibrant in its colour, which opens to its lord the sun and expose the glory of its own heart, a beating flame of fire reminiscent of the suns own. In “The Wild Iris,” Louise Glück recounts the similarities between the botanical world and the human world, but also the gardener and a nameless god. The Poppy recounts being governed and ruled by feelings, and acknowledges its own transient existence in the end, when it unfurls its blooms to give thanks to the heavens, at which point it will cease to be. In this the act of worship, love and vulnerability inevitably end in a state where we are left shattered. Of course, the Red Poppy is not the only flower to speak within this collection. Each orating flower is imbued with their own personality such as the lively daisy, confident with a bit of cheek; white roses which display their nerves; and snow drops startle alive by the onslaught of spring; lilies reminisce their first full moon as their end is nigh in the silence of September, as the threshold of autumn approaches. Of course, there is the gardener as well and a god who walks amongst the flowers in turn. What follows suit is a discussion of the circular human experience, befit with grief, despair, rage, and vulnerability. Much like the Red Poppy, when the gardener opens, what follows is the warmth of release, but then the smoldering sensation of losing oneself. Then there is the divine spirit or god who descends from their celestial perch and walks through the garden and ruminates on humanity. This is Louise Glück at her finest, eschewing the disembodied voice of the I and giving it shape, character, form, and personality within the world. As a poet Glück finds strength in being both vessel and prism, allowing these uniquely touching voices and narratives to be redirected and split apart into a spectrum of imagined experiences. They exist within the botanical world, an anonymous Mediterranean village, in the echoes of Greek mythology.
This perhaps is what is most endearing and interesting about Louise Glück’s work as a poet, the complete paradox of the personal shaped into the universal; or at the very minimum delivered on the anonymous wings of the universal. The best work of Louise Glück is written from the fragmented multifaceted perspective of the collective. A chorus of different beings call out from the garden, each one imbued with their own unique characteristics which infect their perspective, and in turn how the poem is conveyed. In “The Wild Iris,” this clearly seen through the perspective of both the flowers, the gardener, and the god, who are all engaged in a conversation of the intangible realm of the human experience. There is disappointment. There is grief. There are the faintest signs of love. There are reflections on death. The bewilderment of life and waking to the morning. There are the changing seasons and the passage of time. All of this is reflected as the poet surveys the garden. From her garden, Emily Dickinson spied a bird coming down the walk, who eats an angle worm raw and proceeded to drink dew from the convenient grass; while spying this bird who expressed caution from forewarning danger, Dickinson observed the soul in flight (Dickinson. Poem 359). From the mundane garden the natural world can be observed. Time is measured through the passing seasons; even when sophistries are draped overhead in a blue and gold mistake (Dickinson. Poem 130). While the cycle of life and death are but mundane aspects, forever orbiting one another in casual tedium, such as the bird strolling up the walk, who then eats the angle worm. The same is true for Louise Glück, the tended garden is a patch of Eden (though mortal all the same). It is here, Glück finds a chorus to recount and rejoice at life, while reflecting on the painful trivialities that are incorporated into the business of living.  A place where consciousness is buried beneath and is startled to be beckoned forth from the warm womb of the earth and foretell the coming of spring, which is always the ending.
Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read
M. Mary

Sunday 15 August 2021

Nobel Prize for Literature 2021 Speculation List

The Beginning—

In less than two months Gentle Reader, we will learn who this years Nobel Laureate in Literature will be. Following is a list of 94 writers listed for this year’s speculation list. These 94 writers were chosen for a myriad of reasons; however, at no point do I cement or affirm with any certainty that any of the listed writers will receive the award. I have chosen the authors based off personal taste, and careful consideration, after doing research and reviewing of their work (on a limited basis) and believe they have no more or less of a chance than any other writer who is considered in contention for the award.
The following list Gentle Reader is categorized in the usual format: Continent and or geographical region, then sub-categorized into country/origin, then country of exile (if applicable), and literary language (if applicable).
The list is not designed for national interest or advocacy for another. Its merely an attempt at easier navigation.  
Thank-you & Please Enjoy,
M. Mary
Mia Couto – Mozambique – There is no denying Mia Couto is one of the most internationally recognized Portuguese language writers. Furthermore, Couto is one of the most critically acclaimed writers of former Portuguese Colonial Africa. Mia Couto is the son of Portuguese emigrants heading into exile, to evade and protest the fascist politics of Salazar; while also being a child of Mozambique, describing himself as a: “White African,” which exemplifies his literary preoccupation of combining contrary perspectives to create a paradoxical narrative ruminating on post-colonial themes and concepts, such as new and often mercurial identity, and the crisis that form there. His birth and heritage provide enough to exemplify this contrary perspective, while being a mere young adult when Mozambique gained independence, and then two years later fell into a brutal civil war that lasted for decades. The repercussions of independence and rippling colonial influences reverberated throughout Mozambique, who found itself as a pawn between contrary perspectives, of what independence looked like. During this time, Couto worked as a journalist and recorded the events as they unfolded. The horrors, terrors, and traumatic effects of the civil war, along with its brutal scarring of the natural landscape (such as landmines) have been used in Couto’s works, with a fantastical flare to make sense of the world gone mad. “Sleepwalking Land,” is perhaps Couto’s most famous novel, exploring the repercussions and terrors of the civil war with potent beauty, and a fabulist flare for melancholy as it relays the tragic events of war and suffering. “Sleepwalking Land,” and his subsequent stories and novels, recalls Couto’s unique use of language, blending the Portuguese of the colonial rule and the indigenous dialects found in Mozambique, as well as global influencing languages such as English, Mia Couto crafts unique neologisms to create a poetic patchwork of language to compel his narratives. Though often referred to as a ‘magical realist,’ in the same vein as Gabriel Garcia Marquez or other Latin American Boom writers, Couto rejects the term. Mia Couto has gone as far to clarify that from an African perspective (as in with a South American perspective) the concept of magical and realism are separate concepts, but rather synonymous with the reality as its being observed and the incomprehensible acts taking place, such as ox that evaporates into butterflies, which in fact is an ox being blown up by a landmine. The poetic fable and metaphor are not necessarily a magical trope, but a contorted lens in which the situation is being observed. This otherwise contrary and paradoxical perspectives combined with the poetic beauty of language both inherited and plundered, makes Mia Couto one of the most unique and compelling African writers at work today.
Ben Okri – Nigeria – As of late the notion of postcolonial acknowledgement and reconciliation has become a topic of conversation both politically and explored in the literary realm. Since his initial debut, Ben Okri has been considered one of the foremost African representatives in post-colonial and postmodern literature, where he has been favorably compared to both Salman Rushdie and (Nobel Laureate) Gabriel Garcia Marquez, both for his postcolonial preoccupations as well as his reliance and utilization of magical realism tropes and African folk tales in his literary work. In 1991, Ben Okri came to the attention of the greater English-speaking language and readership when he won the Booker Prize (then the youngest winner at 32) for his famous novel: “The Famished Road,” which is still remarked as being his most important and recognized novel to date. The novel blends magical realism, folk traditions, and the rich colourful life of Lagos and Nigeria. The ability to utilize both the traditions of African storytelling, myths, legends, and spirits in conjunction with the modern African state in a postcolonial world has proven to be Ben Okri’s literary hallmark, with “The Famished Road,” being the work that has built his reputation and secured it. Despite minimal press coverage now surrounding Okri’s literary activities, he still publishes and edits, and remains one of African continents most important post-colonial writers.
Wilma Stockenström – South Africa – One of the most important Afrikaans language writers currently at work in contemporary South African Literature, Wilma Stockenström is a playwright, poet, translator, casual novelist, as well as an actress. Stockenström’s first love before turning to a writer was theatre. She studied the theatrical studies at university and acted on stage, before retiring to the wings to pick up the pen and draft works of literary construct. She wrote a couple of one-act plays, before turning to poetry. Stockenström’s poetry is recognized for being unadorned, lacking poetic fashions, and disregarding trivial musicality. Stockenström’s poetic language disregards the frivolity of poetic fads and trends in favour of plain, sober, and straightforward language, which is sharpened with ironic precession. Along with eschewing the haughty, ostentatious, and conceited airs of overcooked poetry, Wilma Stockenström shifted the perspective from the intrapersonal, self-centered, and absorbed ‘I,’ narrative, to one that provided commentary on the human condition. Exploring the external, the interpersonal, and the engagement with the environment. In this, Wilma Stockenström maintains the same poetic predilections as the late Polish poet and Nobel Laureate Wislwa Szymborska who eschewed the confessional narcissistic narratives of previous generations and employed an observational style that was both gentle and ironic as commented on the human condition. In the English language, Wilma Stockenström gained attention through her fragmentary and poetic novel: “The Expedition to the Baobab Tree.”
Tierno Monénembo – Guinea – Tierno Monénembo is one of Guinea’s most renowned writers, is a prominent French Language writer to emerge from post-colonial Africa. Monénembo’s work is particularly informed of the blight of the African intellectuals, who find their home in disarray after colonialism, and seek opportunities abroad, and the difficulties they encountered in life in foreign lands. Tierno Monénembo has taken a particular interest in historical narratives, often detailing the lives of the Fula People, such as the extraordinary life of Addi Bâ, a Fula resistance fighter during the Second World War, who the Nazi’s deemed: “The Black Terrorist.” Tierno Monénembo remains persistently concerned with the colonial and post-colonial histories of the African continent and seeks to elevate the intellectual standings of the continent to a broader audience, through a process of continual codification of memory in historical, personal, and anthropological scope. By preoccupying oneself with the past they are able to gain an understanding of the trajectory that shapes the future. Yet, without fail, the same mistakes are perpetrated repeatedly. The same crimes, the same violence, the same political uncertainty, the same oppressive atmospheres only with different perpetrators. After the Rwandan Genocide of nineteen ninety-four, Tierno Monénembo became one of writers tasked with reviewing and writing about the event. This act would change his perspective on the concept of writing, as many of the writers chosen for the project, either were firsthand witnesses of the atrocities or objective observers, who attempted understand the horror which had taken place. In this, Tierno Monénembo, was an observer tasked to make sense and comprehend the unimaginable societal break down of order and convey with either eloquence and honesty how a country devolved into an uncontrolled sprawl and spree of slaughter and violence. Inevitably it swayed back to the wounds of colonialism, which had finally become to raw and rotten to ignore any longer. In this, Tierno Monénembo works to survey the African continent in a mired of contexts, from colonial to post-colonial, and the dawning hope of a new world, a better world, riddled with the basic idealism and principles of humanity.
José Eduardo Agualusa – Angola – Along with Mia Couto, José Eduardo Agualusa is one of the most successful and read Portuguese language voices ringing from the post-colonial African continent. Where Mia Couto from Mozambique won the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in two-thousand and fourteen, José Eduardo Agualusa went on to receive the International Dublin Literary Award in two-thousand and seventeen. Both Mia Couto and José Eduardo Agualusa are influenced by the histories of their respective nations. Yet, both have a particular relationship to their respective nation’s historical narratives, as their perspective is tinted by the notion of being the outsider, the colonial, the conqueror. Mia Couto explores the historical through the infusion of folktales, traditions, ceremony and blending quilted language, with an anthropologist’s curiosity, to depict a world which cautiously remains in flux between the grounded certainty, and the flights of imaginative fancy. José Eduardo Agualusa maintains a historical approach to his literary narratives, firmly grounded in the context provided, but maintains its own imaginative flights. Take for example Agualusa’s celebrated novel: “A General Theory of Oblivion,” about a woman who grows increasingly concerned about the Angolan War of Independence. As Angola begins to shake the off the oppressive yoke of colonial influence, she becomes increasingly concerned for her future. Instead of fleeing to Portugal, the expat barricades and entombs herself in her apartment for nearly three decades. Her only contact with outside world is through the conversations she hears from her neighbors, the world viewed from her window, and the radio which eventually dies. She distills her experiences, observations, and eavesdropping down into diaries, before documenting them on the walls; all through the historical context of Angola being torn by colonialism, and the influence of other exacting nations: Soviet Union, United States, and the insurgency of South African fighters. José Eduardo Agualusa other novels carry the same preoccupation and concern with the social and political context of Angola and the African continent in the world. Its historical destitution are never far, and the atrocities, reprehensible cruelties, and the prior mistakes are often left behind; through the inventiveness of the imagination, as characters seek to become chameleons, changing colour, lives, and pasts to greet a new era, and a new world without concern for the previous episodes. This is the world of José Eduardo Agualusa, one of historiographic understanding, while presenting imaginative and postmodern irony, to liven it up, and when necessary, add allegorical elements of forewarning and foreshadowing of impending disaster, be it ecological or human.
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o – Kenya – There is no denying that Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o is a perennial Nobel candidate. First and foremost, Thiong’o is a titan of modern African literature, who is not just interested in exploring post-colonial and postmodern themes in his work, but also intently interested in the preservation of traditional African culture and languages, whereby he writes in a traditional indigenous language of Gikuyu, where he has operated as translator of his work into English. The work of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o straddles different forms: epic novels, short stories, poetry, children’s literature, plays, essays, and memoirs. Renowned for his epic novels such as: “Weep Not Child,” “A Grain of Wheat,” “Wizard of the Crow,” – Thiong'o’s work is praised for its epicist perspective that is acutely aware of the historical and contemporary situation of the Kenyan and African experience in a post-colonial landscape. “Weep Not Child,” is a vanguard novel, being the first English language novel to be published by an East African writer, under ‘James Ngugi,’ (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o’s birth name) and details the relationship between Africans and white colonizers, with a critical eye of the colonial settlers, and the eventual rise of the Mau Mau uprising. “Weep Not Child,” was praised by the late Chinua Achebe, who championed it in the English language. “A Grain of Wheat,” follows suit of “Weep Not Child,” as a historical novel detailing the struggles for Kenyan independence and the violence that is woven into Kenya’s history from colonial rule into post-colonial independence. “Wizard of the Crow,” was Thiong'o’s first book after twenty-plus years and is one of his novels which had reclaimed the Gikuyu language that had been stifled by colonial rule. The novel is not historical in scope, but fabulist and satirical in scope, employing the orating traditions of the Bantu people. “Wizard of the Crow,” is epic in scope and scale. Beyond his literary accomplishments, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o is a deserving candidate for the effort and work he has attributed to the preservation and restoration of African identity, traditions, and language which have been erased, bleached, or whitewashed during colonialism. Though I do offer hesitation in this regard. The Swedish Academy’s negligence or inability to award more African based writers, leaves any writer awarded from that continent to be seen as a ‘diversity pick,’ or an appeasement decision that meets a quota. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o has enough merit to dissuade such superficial concerns, but the criticism undercuts and underlines the decision, nonetheless.
Boubacar Boris Diop – Senegal – Boubacar Boris has been called one of the most original and exciting contemporary writers at work on the African continent. His most famous novel “The Book of Bones,” is a fictional account of the notorious Rwandan genocide, which ripped through the country with bloodthirsty fervor from April to July in 1994. Diop’s most recent work is: “Doomi Golo,” (originally published in 2006 and translated into English in 2016) is the only novel to be written in Wolof and is the first novel written in Wolof to be translated into English. Dio’s literary work deals with modern African realities and issues: unstable governments; violence that happens every day it is considered commonplace; corruption and poverty. Beyond his literary leaning and writings, Boubacar Boris Diop has also written for theatre and composed screenplays for films, along with his political focused essays. Diop has also written journalist pieces for both the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and a Paris publication Afrique, perspectives et réalités, while also writing and editing for his own newspaper in Senegal.
Antjie Krog – South Africa – The contemporary South African poet, literary theorist, and academic has been described by Joan Hambidge, as the Pablo Neruda of Afrikaans poetry, her first foray in the literary world, whereby she published her first collection of poetry at the age of seventeen. The poetry of Antjie Krog contemplates and discusses powerful themes, ranging from gender politics, identity, race, salvation, and of course apartheid. Her work can take a slight personal and almost autobiographical tone in discussing the changes of age, time, and gender and its effects on an individual’s identity. Identity in her work often goes beyond gender as well and encompasses a strange desire to change her race beyond the won endowed to her by birth. In this, Antjie Krog presents a unique and political conscious perspective of a poet, observing a strange society at work, one influx of change of resentment and in need of reconciliation. Krog’s work moves beyond just poetry as well and encompasses finely tuned prose forms. The first and most famous work of prose is: “Country of My Skull,” which recounts the Truth and Reconciliation Commission instituted to bring closure and truth, to the previous discrimination, racism, and political abuse caused by apartheid in the southern African state. The second prose work presents a postmodern blend of different forms: prose, personal narrative, poetry, interviews, and journalistic reportage to craft a deconstructuralist narrative, recounting the evolution of South African society away from apartheid, as well as the erosion of Afrikaans language and culture in South African society in favour of a strange vernacular English, as Afrikaans is seen as the language of the oppressor, the racist, the separatist, the great divider of the country, and yet remains within its borders.
Nuruddin Farah – Somalia – Along with Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Nuruddin Farah is a perennial candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Farah’s first novel: “From a Crooked Rib,” was herald as one of the most important literary works to have come from East Africa. The novel is written from the perspective of an orphaned woman and unflinchingly depicts what have been described as savage and brutal customs of Somalia concerning woman, who are raised and sold off as if they were cattle. His most recent novel: “North of Dawn,” tackles the alienation and complications of the East African experience in now a more globally accessible world. The worlds of traditional Islamic religious doctrines and the freedom of the western world meet head on, which causes further strife, complications, and encourages (even if inadvertently) further conviction and violence. Each of Nuruddin Farah’s novels detail the violence of Somalia as it attempts to recover in the wake of the postcolonial world, which suffers political corruption, oppression, civil war, and violence that breeds further violence. Escapes to the grander world only prove alienating and discomforting. While attempts at changing or shifting political movements at home prove to be fruitless, as violence breeds further violence, and the cycle continues spinning within itself. Despite the international acclaim and appeal that Nuruddin Farah brings, there are concerns and cynical skepticism that Nuruddin Farah will not receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, as he has not done so yet. Though in the Swedish Academy’s defense, they are often glacial in making decisions. It is rumored that the late Nobel Laureate Tomas Tranströmer had been nominated for the award since the 1990’s to finally receive the award in 2011. 
Ivan Vladislavic – South Africa –Ivan Vladislavic is only starting to gain a foothold in translation on the world literature stage. South African literature was previously eclipsed by others (Nobel Laureates, Nadine Gordimer, and JM Coetzee). Where other writers of South Africa have found inspiration or felt compelled to comment on the troubled racial injustice that plagued the country through the last Century, Ivan Vladislavic has taken an otherwise unique and surreal approach to the landscape, the world, and the human condition, where he explores the possibilities of literature in its relation to communicating the human experience both on the personal and in the universal context. His one novel or short story collection or digression on the concept of memory, landscape, and people: “Portrait with Keys,” is not unified by an overarching narrative, story, or plot. Instead, the work is composed of numerous fragments, prose snippets, vignettes, scenes, and stories concerning Johannesburg through ghosts and gardens, memories, habit, concepts of home, journeys undertaken, wandering observations, changing perceptions, friendships, and mortality. It is a pastiche novel painting a portrait of a city, through its side streets, and its unique characteristics and populace. It should come as no surprise then that Ivan Vladislavic is renowned for his shorter proses, where there has been a steady increase in translation over the past few years. His shorter prose provides a surreal, postmodern, and postructuralist perspective of the world, one which rejects societal and human attempts at instituting either order or control, an echoing sentiment of the strange paradox of the human condition: despite our unity in on the most atomized level, we are all still inherently different. In this a critic or a reader may find an allegory or metaphorical element providing inclinations to the discussion of apartheid in South Africa, while all the same the work transcends the national and seeks to make sense of the more philosophical, existential, and ethereal components of the human context, while ultimately being unable to measure it. The short story, and further fragmentation of form, is therefore a perfect literary style for an author whose decries and sighs at the continual need for order, and harmonic responses to the natural, instinctual and by nature chaotic world.
Northern Africa, the Middle East & Central Asia—
Agi Mishol - Israel - In describing Agi Mishol, the late critic Isaac Meyers commented (regarding her English language poetry translation collection: "Look There,") that Mishol is a: "highly respected and decorated, and her poems grab public attention." It sounds foreign--even absurd--to promote and propagate a poet as popular among the reading public. Afterall poetry has been exiled to the highest dusty shelf of any bookshelf; forgotten and alienated in its ivory tower prestige. And yet, Agi Mishol is one of those poets who has descended from the forgotten peaks of the poetic perch and has gained the prominence—and respect—of the reading public through her verse. Through 16 collections of poetry, Agi Mishol has delighted the poetry world with her verse that is both socially aware and observational, while also maintaining personal introspection and private poetic predilections. The poet and critic Joel Brouwer remarked that Mishol was able to: “take up political subjects with a sly delicacy reminiscent of the Polish Poet Wislwa Szymborska's best work.” The lack of blatant political ideological positions or demagoguery, attributes to Agi Mishol's renown and success. Hailing from Israel there is no doubt the question of political conviction and allegiance will always be directed at her person. The mercurial fluidity in which these topics are handled, will inevitably disarm (because they cannot be sated) any declaration or promotion of one political stance or support over another. Further praise has been provided to Agi Mishol as a poet from the late Amos Oz (a favourite to win the Nobel Prize for Literature) who praised her work: "Agi Mishol's poems know how to tell a tale, to sing a song and also dance – all at once and the same time. I love the splendid surprises in them, the subtle and exact sadness, and the mysterious manner by which she makes this sadness overflow with hidden joy." Perhaps it is with this empathetic spirit, the personal insights with a cunning bite of ironic humour ("Geese," for example, or "No Casualties Reported."), does Agi Mishol bring poetry to the forefront as an eternal and ancient mode of expression to describe the human condition: flawed, perilous, joyful, and filled with life.
Adunis – Syria – Arabic language poetry will always canonize Adunis as the greatest revolutionary poetic voice of the 20th Century. Warmly and welcomely compared to T.S. Eliot who also revolutionized and modernized English language poetry in the early 20th Century, there is no denying that Adunis is by and large one of the most important poets of world literature. The fact that Adunis has been overlooked or explicitly denied the Nobel Prize for Literature is one of those questionable decisions of the Swedish Academy has made. Is it because the Adunis’s literary significance has already been secured in the history books? Is awarding him the Nobel Prize for Literature considered to ‘predictable,’ and therefore would lead to questions of accusations and allegations that the Swedish Academy has lost its originality and imaginative grace, reducing itself to an institution that merely pins recognition onto the giants who are already decorated and coronated with recognition, the Nobel Prize for Literature merely becomes yet another feather in the cap, another tick on the box. In other words, the Nobel Prize for Literature becomes the final milestone. Despite this speculated hesitation there can be no denying that Adunis is undoubtfully one of the most important writers and poets of the last half century, who has on a singular level, revolutionized a regional concept of poetry and poetic forms, rejuvenating it for generations to come. Denying Adunis is on the same mistake as denying Leo Tolstoy the Nobel Prize for Literature, its an expectation that remains an expectation far after the fact. Now at the age of 91, there is no denying that time is of the essence if the Swedish Academy would decide to award Adunis the Nobel Prize for Literature. The persistent overlooking of the poet will inevitably be marred as one of the greatest oversights and missteps conducted by the academy in recent memory; while on the contrary, awarding the poet the prize will inevitably be considered well deserved but foreseen and predictable as well. Despite the dichotomous debate that will certainly be conducted regarding the circumstances of the poet; there can be no denying that Adunis is by and large one of the most important writers and poets of not only the Arabic language, but also one of the most important poets at work in on a global stage, who was the contemporary and translator and propagator of other poets such as Yves Bonnefoy and Tomas Tranströmer. Whether or not Adunis wins the Nobel Prize for Literature is not known; but with or without the Nobel Prize for Literature, Adunis remains one of the most important poets of contemporary poetry.
Ibrahim al-Koni – Libya – One of the most prolific, translated and critically acclaimed writers of the Arabic language literature, Ibrahim al-Koni is considered a perennial candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Rather than concerning himself with the blandness of theological concerns or maintaining the approval or religious clerics who are often accused of inspiring fanaticism within the youth, indoctrinating them violent baptisms to stir up some misbegotten holy war. No, Ibrahim al-Koni maintains a firm distance from such simpleton panhandling. In lieu of such digressions down paths otherwise left alone, al-Koni’s work has been defined as magical realist in scope, fabulist in perspective, and lyrically enchanting. True enough, myths, legends, folklore, and other elements of legends, spiritual quests can be found within his novels, as they ponder existential conundrums and questions. For example, Ibrahim al-Koni’s novel: “Anubis,” tackles a spiritual quest through the desert complete with all the legends and allegories one will experience will traversing the shift sands of the landscape that will batter and weaken an individual to a point where they question their grasp on reality, and any faith they may have had with the world. For the young Tuareg youth in search of his father, he will be granted an Eden like oasis in the desert, but it too will succumb to civilization. He will be pursued by a romantic admirer, and the world of sacrifice, slaughter, incest, and animal transformations are all abound throughout the novel. It should be noted that Ibrahim al-Koni’s work is a lot like Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o’s, in the manner in which the author seeks to capture and encapsulate in codified oral stories, folktales and legends of a nomadic people (the Tuareg) into a modern novel, what remains can be a bewildering and frustrating novel that readers may find it difficult to access, read and review. “The Bleeding of the Stone,” is much the same way, maintaining that allegorical sensation to the novel that praises the desert and culture of those who call it home, while also providing spiritual questions and ponderings to the nature of existence.
Amina Saïd - Tunisia - Poetry often wavers between sound and silence. Spoken and unspoken. Fullness and space. Perhaps as the literary profession (or vocation) that is most in tune with the primeval soundscape of language, poets are acutely aware that silence in conjunction with language can breed as much meaning to the human experience than just a torrent of verbiage. Though the continued description of poets as masters of silence, form, and necessary words, diminishes their potency and poignancy, becoming in its stead cliches and caricatures, two dimensional in form and practice. Yet, poets understand the brevity and the white space of the page, more so than a prose writer. They understand how absence and nothingness frames the fossilized emotive experience and expression transcribed on the page. The text emerges like solitary islands within a bleached ocean, screaming out to further distant shores, but lost either in the calm of the sea; or the capricious waves sinking it. For the Tunisian poet, Amina Saïd silence is a continued loyal theme and dog which trails and shadows the poet and her personas throughout her collections of poetry. Silence takes on varied expressions and forms throughout Saïd’s poetry. It is not just language or sound muted or deprived from merriment or scream. It takes the form of absence (both physical, visual, aurally); as well as being expansive and open, consuming in the never-ending vastness of spaces. Perhaps silence and absence are resistant functions to the crowdedness and connectedness of today's world; the continued urban claustrophobia and social sycophancy we have grown accustomed to. Language plays a unique identifiable feature in the work of Amina Saïd's poetic work, as it grapples with the concept of history, heritage, oppression, and colonization. Born to a Tunisian father and a French mother, Amina Saïd learned to speak and write in both French and Arabic from a young age. At university, Saïd studied English and became a translator of the Filipino writer Francisco Sionil Jose (who writes in English) into French. French, however, is the literary language of Amina Saïd, a unique decision as it recalls both the cultured cosmopolitan fluidity of the language being able to traverse the literary landscape of the world through a common and recognized language, but also recalls a language of colonization and oppressive forces through history. Despite the historical and linguistic complications language possesses, Amina Saïd has found great success in the French language as a poet, with Paris becoming her adoptive home from Tunisia.
Abdellatif Laâbi – Morocco – One of the most important contemporary Moroccan writers at work today, Abdellatif Laâbi has written novels, plays, and essays, but is well revered for his critically acclaimed poetry. A contemporary and colleague of Tahar Ben Jelloun, Laâbi was also persecuted by the Moroccan government for his opinions and was imprisoned and tortured due to these same opinions. After being released from prison Laâbi would leave Morocco and find himself taking refuge in Paris, France where he found intellectual and political freedom. Free to publish without censorship or threat of oppressive retaliatory action, Abdellatif Laâbi wrote critically about the political situation of Morocco as it sought to recover and regain itself from the colonial ruling period and enter a post-independent and post-colonial world. Laâbi’s autobiographical novel: “The Bottom of the Jar,” recounts a childhood lived during the twilight of French colonial rule, as Morocco began the campaign to regain its sovereignty. What follows though is a world envisioned and experience through the eyes of a child. Fes emerges like a city of dreams. Its labyrinth streets and alleys become the corridors for characters to share their stories; they are tunnels of mysteries; the thresholds of journeys not yet taken. There are the dramas of family; the turbulent and perpetual unfairness of childhood; and the enshrined freedom that only children are in possession of, with their limited agency and overflowing imagination. Yet it is the poetry of Abdellatif Laâbi that remains his strongest suit, as it is a diverse palette of domestic lyrics of love and longing, to the firebrand inspiring proclamations that demand change and social reform, political renovations, and renewed respect for the basic principles of human rights and freedoms.
Boualem Sansal – Algeria – Writing carries many purposes, and writers carry this function out through their own personal reasonings. Some writers write for enjoyment, others write for more rational purposes, and others as Samuel Beckett stated best: aren’t good for anything else. Some, however, like Boualem Sansal write out of intellectual integrity, as well as protest, and dissidence against the sheer disregard, and collapse of the basic civic due processes of society, which becomes infected by fantasies of grandeur, dissatisfaction with other sects, races, religions, people, and other homicidal/genocidal inclinations, which are fueled by hatred, which they quickly retort they do not foster nor promote. As an author Boualem Sansal is deemed an author who is exiled within his own country. In Algeria, his works are banned from publication and distribution, so it should go without saying they are indefinitely not deemed appropriate for public consumption. The reason for this is simple, his work is highly critical of the current political maneuvering of the Algerian government to set aside all political sovereignty, as well as moral and intellectual integrity, in embracing, and fostering Islamic fundamentalism, a movement which Boualem Sansal has adamantly worked to undermining and dissuading against. His work is noted for using political and historical allegories to reflect the current of Algeria, and the Northern African Continent. Despite the disregard in which his home country treats him, he is still considered one of the most profound and important writers of the French language, and of the French language on the African Continent.
Tahar Ben Jelloun – Morocco [Language: French] – Perhaps a byproduct of colonial attitudes, but high culture and business is often conducted in the French language. This may be because French is considered more open, broader, and accessible in the Western hemisphere, and therefore will lead to further development in business relations with a broader clientele. Whereas Arabic became the language of the streets, the everyday. It was the commonplace tongue. Sadly, this perspective may continue to be increasingly persistent even today, as writers of certain generations may find themselves at cross-roads of which language to write in, be it French or Arabic. In the case of Tahar Ben Jelloun, he has chosen to write in French, though his first language is Darija (or western Arabic, or Maghrebi Arabic). Throughout his youth, Jelloun was educated in both French and Arabic, and would complete post-secondary studies in both languages, gaining a doctorate in social psychiatry in French, which would become his literary language. While living in Morocco, Tahar Ben Jelloun worked as a philosophy professor (before his doctorate) and helped found the now defunct literary periodical Souffles, which took a critical stance against the oppression of the Moroccan police and government. Jelloun inevitably suffered for, as he was sentenced to a military prion style camp. During this period, his initial poems were published in France, and Jelloun would leave Morocco for France to continue his studies. It is in Paris that Jelloun began to publish once again in Le Monde, afterwards his novel “The Sand Child,” was published to critical acclaim; and his next novel “The Sacred Night,” earned him the Prix Goncourt making Tahar Ben Jelloun the first Moroccan writer to do so. The work of Jelloun maintains a strong cultural understanding of North African culture, but also of the immigrant experience in new lands, and the shadow of colonial history. His novels and work are noted for their pedagogical stance, seeking to educate, and building further understanding between competing cultures and identities through education and empathetic comprehension. His monumental work of non-fiction “Explaining Racism to My Daughter,” made Jelloun a public intellectual receiving continued invitations to lecture and speak at universities and schools on the topic, along with interviews with French news and media outlets. The strength, however, of Jelloun’s literary merit resides in his novels and short stories, with “The Sand Child,” “The Sacred Night,” and “The Wrong Night,” being considered the hallmarks of his work.
Elias Khoury – Lebanon – A renowned and critically acclaimed Lebanese playwright, novelist, and public intellectual; like many Middle Eastern writers, Khoury is also a politically involved writer, one who continually seeks political reform in a democratic vein. Despite his western approved perspectives, Khoury retains a contrary and fluid intellect and perspective that maintains a grounded and well-versed understanding regarding the regional complexities that is the Middle East. For example, Elias Khoury condemned (along with Adunis) and other writers a holocaust denial conference being hosted in Beirut, when the Israeli government praise his open protest to the conference, Khoury in turned criticized the Jewish nation for its mistreatment and appropriation of Palestine land. Politics in reference to the Middle East is not a graceful Viennese waltz, but a tepid and apprehensive polka bouncing and skirting landmines or seeking to attempt to evade another airstrike or an explosion. Khoury’s novels tackle these same subjects, with his same objective and critical eye. His novels tackle political subjects while avoiding the unnecessary pontificating moral high-handed forms, preferred to simplify matters for western readers, and glorify their stances or perspectives. Khoury not only eschews such nonsense, but he also completely denies it and criticizes. Instead, Khoury presents the ambiguities of the political dimensions of the Middle East going beyond simple dichotomous complexities of the good versus the bad. Instead Khoury fundamentally questions the behavior of people during these situations and seeks to present an objective portrait via the use of internal monologues, conversations, and statements originating from the characters to provide a spectrum oriented panoramic viewpoint on the situation, both politically and individually. This otherwise fair and balanced approach to writing about political measures in one of the most contested and volatile regions of the world, make Elias Khoury one of the most integrity defending writers of the Middle East, rising above the pettiness of politics, while still providing complex treatise and thought regarding the socioeconomic and political landscape of the region, undoubtfully makes Elias Khoury one of the most well-respected writers of the region. A writer of both literary quality and humanistic merit.
David Grossman – Israel – The late Amos Oz was always favoured to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, when referring to writers from Israel. Oz was rumored to have been favoured for his mild political and often liberal leaning thought within the Middle East political conundrum, even though it was often relayed in sobering and solemn tones. Second, to Amos Oz, has always been David Grossman, who politically speaking is blatantly a representative of the Israeli left-leaning cultural and intellectual side of the spectrum, especially concerning his peace activism, which is more involved in a tangible and palpable manner then the late Amos Oz, who published articles, gave, lectures, and provided interviews, but stopped at the participatory mark in regard to endorsing and promoting peace activism within the region. The on-going dispute between Israel and Palestine, as a subject has often been carefully avoided David Grossman’s work, until the death of his son in 2006, during the Lebanon War. Afterwards, Grossman would publish his novel: “To the End of the Land,” recounting the emotional strains families experience as their loved ones are deployed during combat, especially during the mandatory military conscription utilized by Israel and its government. The novel was political as it was personal. David Grossman has been one of the most renowned Israeli authors on the global stage. In 2017, he won the Booker International Prize, for his novel: “A Horse Walks into a Bar,” where he was shortlisted alongside his late contemporary colleague Amos Oz. David Grossman remains a poignant writer of the Jewish experience in the region, but also of the insurmountable grief families experience when their loved ones are sent off on military service, and the superstitious rituals they perform to ward off harm. Despite his literary renown, David Grossman is no stranger to skirmishes with authorities due to his political activism, and in 2010 Grossman was beaten by police during protests along the West Bank. Beyond the dirty affairs of politics, and geopolitical disputes, David Grossman is a phenomenal and serious writer, with striking literary tastes, humanistic eye, and a solemn perspective of the human notion in the world continually divided.
Bahaa Taher – Egypt – Often called one of the Egypt’s literary secrets, Bahaa Taher’s literary career has weathered and outlasted both censorship, government persecution and purges, and finally their own collapse, while Bahaa Taher though retreated into exile remained consistent and continued to publish. In his earlier career, Bahaa Taher worked in radio, being a founding member of Cario Radio Cultural Program, where he would associate with Naguib Mahfouz, and help produce a radio platform for Greek theatre to Beckett’s absurd comedies. Yet, when Taher advertised his left leaning principles, viewpoints, and political views that were in direct conflict with the ruling government of the day, Taher found himself dismissed from his job. This placed Taher into a state of poverty, where he would finally accept exile, where living in Geneva, Switzerland Taher worked as a translator from the United Nations. Now returned from exile, Taher has received a warm and welcoming response. Taher’s literary work details the experiences of exile; with grace and a humanistic approach contemplates the complications of Egypt and the Arabic world; he skirts and retracts any cheap sentiment regarding the political and social situation of the region that fails to grasp the anthropological, cultural, social, and historical developments of the region. Bahaa Taher is a chronicler of the complexities and nuances of Egypt from its ancient memory and glory to colonial history, to present complications. Taher remains objective though critical in his exacting analysis of Egypt through the times. 
Hamid Ismailov – Uzbekistan – Central Asia is that unfortunately neglected and mercurial landscape, much like Eastern Europe, countries appear and disappear on the map with ease. Allegiances and political influences eb and flow through region, flooding it with ideological thoughts and demands for decades, then receding into a purge, leaving the landscape battered and beaten. What exists or takes hold within the waning years is often a totalitarian force, which mimics the previous regimes behavior without the ideological indoctrination but maintains the same brutal and brunt force to conduct its affairs. Post-Soviet Uzbekistan is one such prime example, where accusations that slave and child labour have been liberally utilized in the harvest and work in the nations cotton fields. There has been noticeable control of the press, political movement and thought, and extensive use of prisons to qual dissidence. In the past few years, progressive changes have been made to absolve slave labour and provide further freedoms to the citizens. To no surprise, Hamid Ismailov is not welcomed or read in his native Uzbekistan where he has been exiled from. Despite leaving Uzbekistan and living abroad in the United Kingdom and working for the BBC World Service (leaving in 2019 after 25 years of service), Ismailov remains interested and critical of Uzbekistan. Ismailov’s novels are intricate postmodern and post-soviet parables that contemplate the unique trajectory of the modern man in search of purpose and meaning in the world. The novel “The Underground,” traces the coming-of-age story of a bastard child who is born in the Soviet subway system by a Russian woman and a African athlete who competed at the 1980’s Mosco Olympic Games. The novel becomes an intricate travelogue of the city of Moscow through underground, and the development of a multiracial young man greeting a new world. “The Dead Lake,” recounts the nuclear testing conducting in the barren steppe of Kazakhstan, which still suffers the Soviet nuclear tests which took place out there during the Cold War. This desolate landscape riddled with abandoned silhouettes of buildings and unnatural lakes formed by the tests, becomes the startling grim fairytale like story of “The Dead Lake,” where a boy seeking to impress the girl he fancies, dives into one of these nuclear lakes. What follows is all but expected.  Despite not being read in Uzbekistan, and living his professional writing life in exile, Hamid Ismailov remains one of the most important post-Soviet writers heralding from the Central Asian states, whose work is not just politically important, culturally significant, but maintains literary significance.
Shahrnush Parsipur – Iran – When Jila Mossaed was elected to the Swedish Academy, the academy was provided a member to its council who could read and provide insight into the Persian language and literature. Just as the late Göran Malmqvist was the Swedish Academy’s sinologist, and whose perspective and opinion on Chinese culture, language, and literature would have been highly respected and sought after, it is reasonable to believe that Jila Mossaed’s opinion and insights will be welcomed by the Swedish Academy, especially as it seeks to broaden its understanding and approach to languages and literatures that have been overlooked. As a member of the Swedish Academy, Mossaed, has the privilege to nominate candidates for the Nobel Prize for Literature, and it would be reasonable to presume that she will nominate writers from her native language and culture, who she respects and admires. As Iranian and Persian language literature has shown over the past century, women writers are often the most outspoken, formidable, and ferocious, such as the late poet: Simin Behbahani, the Lioness of Iranian Literature, who challenged the social and political status quo of Iran, and Shahrnush Parsipur is no different. Parsipur, takes an equal adversarial approach to literature, to inspire social and political changes in perspective and decorum of Iranian society. Shahrnush Parsipur’s literary work explores the divide of women in Iranian society, and the conditions that they are subjected to. Her characters continually express openly their disregard for their place in society; they unabashedly sexual oppression, domination; ridicule the virtues of chastity; and resist the social and political demands of society against them. Her writings have not come without controversy. Twice she was imprisoned for her novel “Women Without Men.” Her prison memoirs were published to great acclaim and received international translation and recognition following, allowing the writer to move into exile, where she has stayed, while remaining an active vocal critic of the patriarchal social restraints of her homeland. Shahrnush Parsipur, is by all accounts one of those forceful hurricane forces of literature that demands social, political, and ideological changes. 
Ivan Klima – Czechia – Czech literature over the past decades has been dominated by Milan Kundera and his ostensible disgust with his former homeland. When one did not pay attention the warring factions of Kundera and Czech sensibilities, found relief in the romps of Bohumil Hrabal. Yet, quietly working away over the years is Ivan Klima, a writer who has produced a combination of novels, essays, plays, and testimonials of the 20th Century. His uneventful and idyllic childhood was abruptly changed after Nazi Germany invaded the then Czechoslovakia. Unbeknownst to Klima, both his parents had Jewish ancestry and heritage, and though they were not practicing or observational Jews they were considered equally as guilty by Nazi doctrine, and the Ivan and his family were sent to the Terezín Concentration Camp. It was here that Ivan Klima learned of the liberating abilities of language and writing, and the early inceptions of a future as a writer took form. The formative years of the concentration camp provided Klima numerous educational opportunities to observe and witness what the absence of freedom looked like; how immediate and transient life is; how violent and cruel the world can be; but also lessons in the art of survival that otherwise almost brutalist animal instinct; and the flittering beauty of escape that literature could provide. While incarcerated in Terezín Klima had only one novel to retreat to, Charles Dickens “The Pickwick Papers,” and freedom became the act and art of storytelling, that otherwise immersive experience. While in the concentration camp, Ivan Klima performed puppet plays and daydreamed about his crushes, while continually encapsulating his freedom within the frame of language and writing. After Terezín was liberated Klima returned to Czechoslovakia with his family, but further oppression awaited them with the Soviet authorities and communism. Always in the shadow and absence of freedom, Klima’s work takes an ire stance of skepticism to any concept that may be considered absolute in nature. Now 89 years old, one can’t help but wonder if Klima’s time had already passed for the Nobel Prize for Literature; though there is no denying that the writer is absolutely deserving of the award. His work is riddled with the salt and the testimony of the lived and experienced, providing palpable perspective on the atrocities of the 20th Century. Yet, one can’t help but wonder if somehow the Swedish Academy sought to evade yet another ‘testimonial,’ writer in the vein of: Imre Kertész, Herta Müller, and Svetlana Alexievich. Regardless of the reasons which may prevent Klima from receiving the prize (age or testimonial sphere of literary influence) Ivan Klima is one of the most renowned Czech writers of the 20th Century and in the post-Soviet years.
Antonella Anedda – Italy – There is something about poetry. A certain cryptic way in which it chooses to waltz around the subject. As a form it orbits the centre without making direct contact. It is a satellite that passes by the planet, whistling whispery trails in its wake. Poetry requires patience and perhaps a certain curiosity in other people’s secrets. While poets are stoic and resilient, who enjoy the airs of mystery that leave readers to feign for clues to understand their hermeticism. Needless to say, I am not a devout poetry reader. I find other people dull, and any secret they contain is of little intrigue or interest. Despite any personal prejudice directed towards the form itself, one can recognize that poetry is by all accounts one of the oldest literary forms crafted by human societies, and thus retains its sacred position in the literary landscape. Yet, there are poets, who truly do rise above the hermeticism and the self-indulgence, to provide incisive insights into the human experience, without pomp or pretense. While there are others who do revel in the history, the glory of the past, and seek to evoke that pageantry. Antonella Anedda would perhaps be described as the latter of the two. Her poetry carries a deep-seated understanding of language and tradition, paying homage to the history of the Mediterranean literary form. There is an external ethicist streak to Anedda’s poetry, a preoccupation with fate, death, tragedy, the mortal coil, meditations on time and the crisis of the environment as it influences the destiny of our world. In doing so, Antonella Anedda is one of the most authoritarian poetic voices currently writing in contemporary Italian poetry. She eschews narcissistic introspection in favour of observing with detailed meditations on the external existential functions of the world, and in doing so provides an almost pointillistic portrait of a world continually in crisis, which are relieved in moments suspended in an atmosphere of joy, beauty, and grace. The lack of introspection means that the personal character of Antonella Anedda is neglected in her poetic works. The poet’s self is sacrificed or redacted from the literary text. There is no lingering fingerprint or shadow of a persona or ego. In lieu there is only observation and reportage, providing poetic dissertations, meditations, and discussions.
Durs Grünbein – Germany – Few writers are referred to as having herald from the former “East Germany,’ – and if they are, it is commonly a mere footnote in their biography. For Durs Grünbein, East Germany, was the incubator for his poetic upbringing, preoccupation, and literary treatise. Born in 1962, the poet grew up in the former communist state, and under the totalitarian regime, which provided him great influence in his early political, social, and literary influence; by the time he had begun to publish, the state was already in deep decay. Despite being an East German poet, it was unification that brought Durs Grünbein his immediate poetic and literary achievement, providing him the environment to envision and participate in a new complete Germany. A reunited Germany. Grünbein was not overwhelmed by the immediacy of the changing times and events, but rather one who changed with the times and adapted to the opportunities now on offer. Since his initial debut in the late eighties, Durs Grünbein was noted for being of the most invigorated, and powerful new voices in the German literary scene, especially in the field of poetry. His poetry marked a changing wind in German language poetry, one that breathed new life of a complete German whole, rather than the segregated camps of frail and crumbing concrete. Durs Grünbein’s poetry is noted for going beyond the autobiographical and personal, and instead turns it eyes towards more stately, historical and external aesthetics. He tries on different styles and forms like suits, while giving respect to the classics, though never impeded or constrained by their dogmatic principles. Grünbein’s early poetry was noted for its deadpan expressions, ironic perceptions, and bitter sarcasm. Over time these earlier themes were replaced by classical styles, complete with austere restraints, which then once again abandoned for a measured and aged version of his earlier work, now fermented into a tonic of playful severity, and abstaining from the sarcasm and cynicism beforehand. Beyond poetry, Durs Grünbein is an accomplished essayist, whose subjects and themes range as electrically as his poetry; though they blend memoir or autobiography, with further concerns with politics, history, aesthetics, science, medicine, ethics, or antiquity.
Annie Ernaux - France - As a writer, Annie Ernaux, is by all accounts a multi-disciplined social scientist. Though her work is often denoted and classified as memoirs or autofiction - genres that recall intensely personal exposé of oneself, to the point of being crude exhibitionism and sexual fetishization (here's looking at you Christine Angot). No, Annie Ernauxs exhumation of the self, though superficially very personal and intimate in nature, does not narrowly function as some ill-advised gossip column or tell-all reveal. No, there is no Plath like confessional strip tease, which conducts itself with the slow anticipation of self-mutilation as the artistic process of some unadvisable healing process. While most memoirists, diarists, autobiographers and company, participate in the self-indulgence of narcissistic wallowing and lounging in the realm of the intrapersonal; Annie Ernaux remains consistently concerned with the intrapersonal as it relates and interacts with the interpersonal. The self as it reflects, interacts, confirms, and resists society and its expectations, demands, and oppressive tendencies are observed through the sharp, personal, and subjective lens of Annie Ernaux. Her work traces the intimate and personally experienced lives of the individual as they maneuver through fluctuating social changes, evolutions, revolutions, vogue ideologies, philosophies, attitudes, and developing technologies. The groundbreaking, everlasting, and historical, becomes encapsulated in palpable and lived preoccupations. Riots which threaten to derail a grocery trip; an abortion that finally forces ourselves to confront the puriticannical indifference conservative beliefs have and deny any attempts at progress and future development of the possible human condition; or rampant consumerism never a byproduct of chauvinistic capitalism itself, but of the very human nature demand for materialistic comforts and convenience, and capitalisms ability to force feed consumerist perspectives on the individual, in order to fuel the ephemeral machine of economics. Through it all, Annie Ernaux observes, recounts, records, transcribes, and remembers the changes in the air, the different theories regarded to conceptualize and understand the human being as a social animal. The self as the anchor and vantage point to provide narrative decree and understanding makes Annie Ernaux a welcomed writer, one who provides real time commentary on the human condition, without wringing it out in the realms of dray academia, which eventually leads to the myth making of these historical events, which gloss over or neglect the mundane, the trivial, the ordinary business of daily life; Ernaux also presents an often contrary perspective, which vocalize the disappoints, lost hopes, and tarnished ideologies of the movements that promised such great possibilities. Ernaux's unflinching perspective, provides a qualitative study of society, history, and the individual.
Gyrðir Elíasson – Iceland – Iceland is renowned for its literary heritage rooted in its ancient literary sagas. Tales of heroism, mythology, romanticism of the Viking era, and folk all wrapped up in historical epicism. These ancient cornerstones of heritage are perhaps recognized in the sheer epic and daunting weight of Halldór Laxness, whose modernist novels carry a special homage and recognition to the sagas and epics of the past and maintain this heritage in regard to the modern novel. On the contrary Gyrðir Elíasson is not an epicist in either the scale of his work or the scope of it. Elíasson is a poet first and foremost, with his initial debut and his favoured form, though he is most well-known and recognized for his prose, specifically his short stories. The stories of Elíasson use precise language with an economy of words to achieve macro impact. Despite his work being condescended and physically smaller in comparison to other contemporary ‘door stop,’ novels, Elíasson’s work is not myopic in its scope, instead in its essential and ethereal in form Elíasson provides a meaningful and poetic statement regarding the human condition, leaving much of his work existing within a fine balance between what is written and the negative space. As a writer, Gyrðir Elíasson made his debut in 1983 with the poetry collect: “Read and Black Suspenders,” and in 1987 he made his prose debut with: “The Walking Squirrel.” Elíasson’s poetic leanings and debut are perhaps what makes his work linguistically and lyrically dexterous. His ability to maximize minimal with the greatest reward, showcases his early poetry, as well as the beautiful yet simple language of his prose. His novels are known for depicting the mundane invaded by an ethereal dream world, where the characters and narrators are haunted or left confused by the surreal, supernatural or dream like logic which has overtaken their life for the briefest of moments. Despite this, Elíasson rejects the literary categorization of magical realism, referring to the title as a garden variety over used term. In Elíasson’s more mature work, his stories have almost abandoned the earlier blend of dream and reality, and now almost appear as motional stories dealing with mundane concepts, but only on the surface, as below lies an undercurrent of psychological nuanced probing and existential pondering. With his acrobatic and poetic use of language, and his ability to condense his narratives to miniature ethereal elements, it is no surprise that Gyrðir Elíasson is regarded as a grand stylist of contemporary Icelandic literature as well as a short story maser. Ten years ago in 2011, Elíasson received the Nordic Councils Literature Prize for his short story collection: “Milli trjánna,” (“Between the Trees,”). Though not a grand epicist in scope, Gyrðir Elíasson’s work utilizes extensive negative space and poetic forms to insinuate glacial depth that are not readily codified within the narratives. 
Sirkka Turkka – Finland – Sirkka Turkka is a renowned Finish poet. Sirkka Turkka’s poetry pays attention towards nature and animals. Themes of nature and animals is a common theme within Finnish literature, both contemporary and late. These writers write about the respect and beauty of the natural landscape of their nation; and give praise to their animal neighbours, companions, and fierce predators. Sirkka Turkka’s poetry is noted for its explicit warm treatment and fondness of animals—loyal, trusting, and selfless companions, whose instincts are never muddled by the emotional irrationality of human beings. Their thoughts may be simple, but they do have their philosophical ponderings, their witticism, and their own idiosyncrasies. Their flaws are always forgivable. As a poet, Sirkka Turkka serenades these companions with a gentle touch, a caring eye, and an unyielding spirit that is singular in its compassionate treatment. Turkka began being published as a poet at the age of thirty-four, which some may consider a late age for a writer to begin embarking on a literary career. Regardless the maturity of her already developed themes, piercing predilections, gentle lyricism, praise of the natural world, and poetic voice were immediately praised. The poetry of Sirkka Turkka is noted for carrying the heart of the storyteller, employing simple language Turkka can digress and recount the stories she tells through poetry. Sirkka Turkka is by no means an erudite orator, pontificating from the grand marble stages or balconies of the pompous poetic past. Instead Sirkka Turkka’s poetry is warm, intimate, and inviting; reminiscent of previous Nobel Laureate: Wisława Szymborska; and the crystalline reflections of Nobel Laureate: Tomas Tranströmer. The deceptive simplicity of Sirkka Turkka’s poetry is its most endearing quality, as it tackles often powerful questions regarding life, meaning, memory, aging, nature and death. Sirkka Turkka won the biennial Tranströmer Prize in 2016, and as it stands, she is the only Finnish author the receive the award. Previous winners include the Danish poet, Inger Christensen, German poet Durs Grünbein, Polish poet Adam Zagajewski and American Poet Louise Glück. The most recent winner of the Tranströmer Prize is, the American poet, Louise Glück. Over the past few years however, Sirkka Turkka has fallen into ill health. It is not clear how this health digressions will impact her chances of winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. Yet, with Tua Forsström also sitting on the Swedish Academy, there is hope that she can advocate and provide insight into Finnish literature, and the poetry of Sirkka Turkka.
Guy Goffette – Belgium – A contemporary overview of French poetry has reduced the canon to self-reflective, experimental, absorbed in its own conviction regarding its self-importance, Guy Goffette is a breath of renewed fresh air and spirit, whose poetry neglects the conceded formal experimentation that has become all the fashion. In lieu of poetry that dances within its own hermeticism, isolated within claustrophobic caves that echo within such subterranean chambers the appointed convictions of its own genius, Guy Goffette is unabashedly lyrical, where they pay homage to both the late Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine, who Goffette is often warmly compared to. Much like his forebearers, Guy Goffette rejects the deconstructive theories used to reconstruct the forms and ideas of poetry in favour of more refined and lyrically intense poems that hark back to the Symbolist and Decadent poets, whose lush lyricism became the hallmark of opulence and literary style, before the clinical and bleached postmodern perspectives begun to take hold. Though little has been translated into English, Guy Goffette has been described as one of the most important French language poets currently at work in the contemporary era. One of his few translations into the English language, “Charlestown Blues,” provides a brief overview of his poetic work, with engrossing lyricism, and metaphorical preoccupations that mercurially change in their perspective and scope when reviewed or observed from another or new vantage point. Guy Goffette is a poet that brings forth and heralds back to the grand and great literary and poetic traditions of the past, the ones we have since shed and disregarded as outdated, antiquated, or pompous in their scope and pretense. In doing so, however, Goffette is able to showcase how rich and succulent these forms are within an area lacking in such colour, opulence, and metaphorical life. Guy Goffette truly remarks and beckons forth an old age era of poetry stepped in the richness of decadence; but Goffette’s poetry is not scholarly or dry in its rendition but transformed and vitalized with the admiration of the contemporary age regarding the old masters.
Ana Blandiana - Romania - Mircea Cartarescu is one of those writers (like Jon Fosse) where readers and critics will debate which format is his native form. In the case of Cartarescu, it often comes down to the debate of whether he is a poet first and a novelist second, or a novelist first and a poet second. In the case of Ana Blandiana, no such debate exists, as Blandiana is considered one of the foremost most important poets of contemporary Romanian literature, and along with Mircea Cartarescu is rumoured to be a future Nobel Laureate (and is a contender every year she is overlooked). As a poet Ana Blandiana is famous for her dissidence against the former Soviet sympathetic regime of Ceausescu and his ironclad incompetence were hallmarks of his authoritarian rule. In spite of this, the dictator did amass and institute a propaganda personality cult to propagate around him to bolster his ego, which was as characterless as a bruised peach. Ana Blandiana gained a fierce reputation as a poet whose lyricism rebuked the hot stinking dog breath of a dictator who watched his people like a rabid sheep dog preparing to slaughter the flock. Her poetry retained a firm moralistic and ethical stance against tyranny, corruption, and the bloated egoism that had since racked ruin across Romania. The defiant tones of her poetry, the beautiful imagery that startled and invoked, were admired, and adored by the Romanian reading population. Of course, this in itself had consequences. Censorship and harassment were common actions of recourse, which did little to intimidate Ana Blandiana, and instead strengthened her resolve to continue her poetic protest. After the fall of communism, Blandiana maintained her poetic output. Her work now sought to reconcile and console a battered and beaten country. It takes stock of a collective history and seeks to remedy it - if at the very minimal soothe it - and inspire a new destiny, to reconcile with the past as tragedies, but etch out and create a new future that is their own, without the influence of neighbours or other dictating puppets instituted by other regimes. Further collections of her poetry continue to provide a marvel of her postmodern perspectives but showcase the poet now longer as militant as she was in her early years. Replacing the firebrand anger is a poet who meditates on the evanescence of being being, the effervescence and disintegration of the spirit and soul when faced with time, and the human races 'progress,' are also its greatest degeneration into less critical thinking, whereby exemplifying that unimaginative sheepishness that reduces the populace to further torment and suffering. The images can be surreal as they are affectingly relevant: angels lost and disenfranchised, unable to return to heaven; gods who chase kids on scooters to regain relevancy in their oblivious attitudes; a renewed language which recreates the country, which is burned, scarred, and battered.  Ana Blandiana maintains the poetic sensibilities of what poetry does best: ruminate on the refined and provide further reflection for the reader to consider. Blandiana's reputation as being one of the foremost important and revolutionary poets of Romania is not just a bias national declaration, it is confirmed with international respect and recognition.  
Olvido García Valdé - Spain – The Spanish language laureates of the Nobel Prize for Literature fluctuates between Europe and South America. Despite a shared language, the two maintain a distinct difference in cultural perspective and linguistic ingenuity. Where the former colonies of South and Central America carved out their literary legacy and distinctive style with magical realism; continental Spanish language literature had dabbled in many forms, fashions, and styles through its century long existence; from classicism, romanticism, symbolism, modernism, surrealism, and postmodernism, it casually slipped into each style and form with grace and flair, though always keen to give another one a whirl. Olvido García Valdé is a poet who maintains that progressive perspective in continually moving forward, trying on new forms, blending styles, and acquainting oneself with new literary perspectives. Valdé’s poetry is an intense unity of contrasting and paradoxical forms to create a pastiche collage of opposites and contrary perspectives. Valdé’s poetry collection “And We’re Alive,” is her debut in the English language, and was an awarding collection in Spanish literary circles, winning Spain’s National Poetry Prize. The collection is fragmented and fluid in its composition. The poems range in different forms and spectrums, from complex verses and prose poems, to spit fire fragments and aphorisms. Throughout it all, Olvido García Valdé showcase that language is not static, existing within a suspended stasis, but a progressing, shifting, and breathing concept. For Valdé language is a naturally evolving concept, continuing to take mercurial shape as the individual grows, ages, and matures through their life, bring a change in perspective, and sheds any misconception that language exists within a predetermined or fatalistic nature. Olvido García Valdé has also become the most recent winner of the Pablo Neruda Ibero-American Poetry Prize. As a poet, Olvido García Valdé is well regarded for her paradoxical form, attention to linguistic detail and nuance, quotidian commentary, and existential reflections. The judges of the Pablo Neruda Ibero-American Poetry Prize praised Valdé’s poetry building continued bridges between both the Spanish peninsula and South and Central America.
Jon Fosse – Norway – Before retiring from writing for the theatre to focus on prose writing, Jon Fosse was (and is) one of the most produced and performed living playwright in the world. As a dramatist, Jon Fosse had written over twenty plays, and been hailed as the heir of Henrik Ibsen; but also, Samuel Beckett, and to a minor extent, Harold Pinter. Despite the comparisons and the review of dramatic heritage, Jon Fosse writes in contrary to the other three. Fosse is not a naturalist in the fashion of Ibsen. His work is not a detailed portrait of the individual, as they maneuver through their day to day lives, fit with their own tribulations and predications; thwarted dreams and aspirations, which empathetically connect them to the audience, who sit just beyond the stages end. Nor is Fosse an absurdist, writing in the shadow of Beckett’s mantel. His characters are not veiled modernist clowns, performing postmodern pantomime routines mocking the absurd cruelty of life as it circles the meaninglessness as its sole trajectory. Fosse also lacks the comedic menace of Pinter, as well as explicit foray into political discourse. Fosse is his own writer, one of subtle complexities. His work is noted for its minimalist structure and perspective (recalling both Beckett and Pinter) but lacks the absurd and underlying menacing nuances of the two. Fosse’s plays are not realist in tradition either; rather they take place in strange and hallucinogenic worlds, where time and reality are shifting concepts, and of little concern to the characters interaction with each other, as they themselves exchange with each other on more spiritual and emotional levels. Longing and lacking for an ideal of which they cannot quite articulate coherently. Fosse’s dialogue is noted for its simple but poetic structure, filled with long pauses and permeating silence. Jon Fosse’s prose follows the same structure as his plays. His novels are noted for their long-winded sentences and sparse dialogue. Honest communication between characters is never possible. They speak to each other in clipped fragments, as if they are only partially concerned with the conversation, and more engaged with another thought or idea, unrelated to the immediate. Past the minimalist prose, the sparse dialogue, the thinly conceived characters, and otherwise fishbone thick plots; is the eerie sense of theological metaphor and mysticism, as if the deprived and grey world calls out for divine intervention, which never comes. Recent prose publications such as his “Trilogy,” (‘Wakefulness,” “Olav’s Dream,” and “Weariness,”) recounts the tale of the Alse and Alida, who carry a biblical allegory of predestined doom and undying love, recalls a stark retelling of Mary and Joseph, and the unborn Christ. Jon Fosse is a remarkable first-class literary writer. Fosse’s prose is salt and peppered with repetition, images, dialogue, and metaphor that creates a lapsing tide, which rhythmically pulls the reader under, lulling them into exploring the existential uncertainty of the characters. Readers of Jon Fosse’s work will note that they do not read or view his work for their plots or their narratives; but rather to be taken in by the eb and flow of the rhythmic linguistic experience.
Olga Sedakova – Russia – Being referred to as “Confessional Christian Poet,” may be viewed as a hinderance, or being perceived in a negative fashion. It’s an image that carries the pious halo, whose concern is self-righteous pontificating decrees, rather than the meaningful, complex, and often ironic poetic observations of the human condition. The very same human condition that is denied the doting hand of any celestial or holy being. In this denial the world spins through its circular wheel of absurdity and dread, with occasional intermissions of relief. Despite being called a “Confessional Christian Poet,” Olga Sedakova is not pious or theologically concerned; nor she is a wailing mad lunatic, confessing and airing her private details and personal predilections to the reading public like a catholic confessional. Rather, Sedakova is a pinnacle of astute moral integrity, one based around the most instinctual Christian beliefs and ideals, which is not always apparent in churches—this is most exemplified when Sedakova criticized the Russian Orthodox Church’s intolerance towards other Christian faiths. While on the flipside she exchanged poetic correspondence with the late Pope John Paul II. Olga Sedakova’s poetry is noted for its neoclassical forms, and highly theological perspective with regards to faith and the human condition, and the striving goal to reach the divine ideal. Though these poetic preoccupations have gathered her praise and acclaim; during the Soviet Era, her poems were deemed unsuitable and censored or barred from publication, meaning Sedakova was forced to participate in the Samizdat Movement of underground Soviet Literary scenes; but it was not until after the fall and collapse of the Red Empire, did Olga Sedakova finally gain greater recognition and circulation amongst readers and critics, both home and abroad. Olga Sedakova’s poetry is stark, parred down, and yet carry the economic values of earnest expression. Her poetry not only recounts or documents the human experience, but also the goal to achieve the ideal as theorized in the theological concepts of the divine. Olga Sedakova is both a poet of reality, but also of the progressive possibility; the spirit, yearning and in pursuit of the superlative.
Drajo Jančar – Slovenia – One of Slovenia’s prominent contemporary writers, Drajo Jančar is one of Eastern Europe’s postmodern masters. Heralding from what was once the Soviet multicultural mosaic Yugoslavia, which had since fractured and become fragmented into sovereign states (Jančar now resides in Slovenia). Influenced and inspired by the early modernist traditions, , Drajo Jančar’s work traces the individuals struggle against oppressive institutions: prisons, psychiatric hospitals, military barracks, galleys or ships; or an oppressive society in the form of a dictatorship or totalitarian regime. These otherwise gravitas themes are metered and offset with an ironic touch and laconic humour, employing tragicomic events to cut the tension of the narratives, and propel the narrative along. In “Mocking Desire,” for example Drajo Jančar recounts the narrative of Gregor Gradnik who explores the sensual and seething world of New Orleans. Though only in the ‘Big Easy,’ to teach creative writing at a university, what follows is an acute and ironic conversation regarding the cultures of Slovenia and New Orleans, though attempting to remain an impartial objective observer, Gregor Gradnik become entangled into a series of bizarre relationships, social interactions, both erotic and professional. The result ensures an ironic dry recount of New Orleans, reflecting on the nature in which Gregor Gradnik views the world and his place within it. Beyond his literary career, Drajo Jančar is a public intellectual, writing weekly news paper columns, participating in interviews, and facilitating lectures and speeches, and has engaged in polemic discussions and conversations with Peter Handke regarding the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia.
Henrik Nordbrandt – Denmark – The poetry of Henrik Nordbrandt was described to me by Bror Axel Dehn as a marriage between classical lyrical traditions with a childlike perspective. For years, Inger Christensen was considered a serious contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Christensen was a marvel of Danish poetry, whose themes were universal in scope and perspective: death, love, fear, powerlessness, and their impact on the human condition, which she mulled over in her unique and individualistic in nature. Yet via time and waiting, Inger Christensen passed without winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, in turn Henrik Nordbrandt is considered the best candidate of the Danish language for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Nordbrandt’s poetry pays homage to the notion of traveling and transit, as the poet has spent much of his poetic career traveling and has resided in the Mediterranean for much of his adult life and has gone so far as to publish a Turkish cookbook. The concept of travel is a shifting perspective and theme which moves from arrivals to departures, absence, and emptiness, company, and companionship, and of course life and death. Travel and transit is not just a realm of the physical preoccupation either, as transit and crossings can take place within the psychological world, unconscious realms, and the metaphysical landscape. The language of Henrik Nordbrandt is equally as playful, fluid, and paradoxical in his poetry, often using contrary images to reflect on the often competing and contrary image of the human condition and experience. Despite the playful use of language, and the ever clear and almost childlike enjoyment of perspective, beneath the surface, there is an undercurrent of seriousness and melancholy as it provides commentary on the human condition. 
Lyudmila Petrushevskaya – Russia – The fairytale is a timeless genre. They are stories and fables that have become immemorial and timeless. They are pulled from the antic, from trunks, and forgotten drawers and chests, whereby they are inherited by a new generation of new listeners and readers.  The stories of Lyudmila Petrushevskaya carry the atmosphere of fairytales. They are dark pearls strung along on an onyx chain. Each one a glistening, gleaming, inky tear of unfortunate events, and circumstances that depict desperate individuals in despairing situations. During the Soviet Era, Petrushevskaya was censored and prohibited from publishing her stories and novels. Her works were and are not political in nature. They do not encourage revolt or rebellion, promote any predilection towards political machinations or maneuvering. Rather, Lyudmila Petrushevskaya was proscribed from publishing due to her work ‘blackening reality.’ In other words, her short stories and novels did not adhere or prescribe to the socialist realism and propaganda requirements of the Soviet System. Instead Petrushevskaya did the complete opposite: she described the reality of Soviet life with fairytale acuity: unhappy marriages, childhood poverty, disparity in wealth, and inhumane living conditions. There was no praise and no ideological fanaticism or Soviet sycophancy. There were no proletariat ideal worker toiling away for the greater good, though there were worker toiling (then drinking), but it was to make the minimal wage, which allotted them the funds to purchase the scraps and brad rationed out with bureaucratic stinginess. The inspiration for the narratives of Lyudmila Petrushevskaya come from the Russian people themselves, especially the women, who are keener and more interested in talking about life, gossiping about their neighbors, and venting their frustrations. These women become the modern Soviet Homers, who ride the subway or the buses, sit in cafes, and on park benches. From them, Lyudmila Petrushevskaya concocts a witch’s brew, and present their narratives in her finely shaped, dark pearls of fairytales. Now days, Petrushevskaya has become a somewhat Saintly figure—or Minerva—to the Russian women, who view her as a medium, who has given material form, and voice to the marital discord of the Soviet Union to uncomfortable democracy, which is a reflection of their own broken marriages and divorces. All the while Lyudmila Petrushevskaya never digresses to political commentary. Though her popularity may still be on the rise, her apolitical position is still able to ruffle feathers, with her frank stories, novels and plays, where she discusses, depicts, and contemplates the absurd and often tragic realities of the former Soviet Union and how it has spilled over into the new Russia. Throughout each of her narratives, Lyudmila Petrushevskaya does not just merely describe or objectively listen the rotating stories of the Russian people, their recollections of disillusioned futures, disgruntled marriages, and disgraceful jobs. The solace that Petrushevskaya offers is coated in the black licorice glaze of biting irony.
Botho Strauß – Germany – Playwrights are a unique breed within the literary world. They are more tangible and materialistic then the novelist or the poet, though in the same vein as the poet rely heavily on the abilities and limitations of language and must further contest with the limitations of the moving parts of their work, such as the stage and actors. On the other hand, playwrights enjoy the ability to have their work become more concrete, more immediate, and visually viewed for their readers and their viewers. Despite this, playwrights are a rare breed among the Nobel Prize for Literature, they’re oeuvre is also supplemented with poetry, or novels as in the case of Samuel Beckett and Peter Handke; while others such as Elfriede Jelinek are renowned and recognized for their plays and works for theatre, as their use of linguistic gymnastics and ingenuity is more aptly observed within the world of the stage. Then there are others such as Jon Fosse who have made their name within the literary world for their work on stage, but whose main literary pursuit has always been the novel. Botho Strauß is a playwright who falls into the same category as Samuel Beckett and Peter Handke, his pursuit has been working in the theatre, but his literary work is supplemented with novels and essays. Botho Strauß’s literary work concerns the alienation of the individual lost in the anonymity and desolation of the modern world. Out there adrift and aimless, the contemporary man is disenfranchised and disposed from the reality of real human connection and belonging and is reduced to a state of discontent. This is aptly observed in his most well-known play: “The Young Man,” which displays a young man alienated and adrift in the modern world, whose encounters are riddled without any serious connection and are ruminated on by the character who seeks to understand their place within the social world, while finding a place without it. This urban disenfranchisement and displacement of the individual lost within the cacophonous concrete encased society appear to be the preoccupations of Botho Strauß, who has gained a warm reception in the English language (warmer than his initial debut), where the bleakness of his play “Big and Small,” was lukewarmly applauded as it critically assed the overt materialism and consumerist perspective of the day with an eye for the pessimistically absurd. Botho Strauß is considered one of the most foremost dramatists and playwrights of contemporary German literature; much like Peter Handke and Elfirede Jelinek, just less controversial.
Fleur Jaeggy – Switzerland (Italian language) – Fleur Jaeggy is the literary queen of dry-ice. Her pen becomes a stainless-steel scalpel etching and dissecting her characters and society at large, through continued minute observations, revealing at its core a failed system rotting in its own nihilistic debauchery. Everyday life in Jaeggy’s world is but a thin layer of ice waiting to give way, where beneath the cold translucent sheet of frost lies the misery, the drudgery, the mundane tragedies, and the ever-present violence and insanity of the human psyche. It is in this cold and uninhabitable place, one completely deprived of joy, does Fleur Jaeggy sketch her shadowy characters. These characters live squandered and unfortunate existences—that is if one can call their perilous predilections living at all. They exist only to drift through the sewage strewn river of their life, until the reprieve of death. Their perspective on the matter is the same as their author: dry, cold, and precise. They act with restrained emotion, presenting the world with a rational demeanor, all the while they are consumed in the violet flames of their psyche, prone to fits of rage and passion, all the while never slipping into such pantomime. Instead, they calculate their outburst with measured approaches, such as concealing their suicide, by ensuring the gun shot corresponds with the ringing of the church bell. Their violent appetites are sated when they watch manor houses burn for the sheer hell of it. They maintain one aspiration early on: they want to die. One could never call Fleur Jaeggy idealistic. In lieu she depicts the world with frigid naturalistic expression. The biographical elements of Fleur Jaeggy are scarce. She was born in Switzerland, though her literary language is Italian (with her home now Italy)—though her literary works call back to the mountains and dark valleys of Switzerland. She is noted for solitary and reclusive nature, rarely consenting to interviews and evading questions during them. Beyond her literary preoccupations, she is also a translator of Thomas De Quincy and Marcel Schwob. Jaeggy’s literary style is a marriage of different forms. Her novels are known to possess qualities of an essay, and to have a language likened to a prose poem. Her short stories are often given similar recognition with regards to its blend of poetic language, essayist analysis and prose narrative. Despite being overlooked, and grossly underappreciated, Fleur Jaeggy is an astonishing and monumental writer. Her work is biting and perhaps mistakenly nihilistic, but her observations and dry-icy cartographical analysis of the depravity of existence is both endearing and admirable, as it refuses to look at the world through priggish moral high handing. It’s an existential vivisection of the depravity to seek universal meaning, only to be driven mad or violent by the inherent meaninglessness.
Şükrü Erbaş – Turkey – Şükrü Erbaş is one of Turkey’s most beloved, celebrated, and best-selling poets. His complete literary oeuvre spans over twenty collections of poems and essays. The poetic inclinations of Şükrü Erbaş initially concerned human relationships, seen through the lens, and the details of the overlooked, and ignored aspects of everyday life. These inclinations fermented and matured overtime to take in broader subjects of society, individuals, and their relationship to nature, maintaining the eye for the overlooked details, and mistakenly overlooked portrait, and rebuttal against the mistaken emotionless magnanimity of the natural worlds grandeur, compared to the progressive urban landscape; the former of the two always eternal, and timeless. Şükrü Erbaş’s poetic language is noted for its simplicity, in order to fend off preconceived prejudices that uninitiated readers may have towards the poetic form, with its concern for hermetic preoccupations, emotional resonance, and omission of narrative structure. The use of lucid language will ensure readers are never met with an air of pomp and pretense, whereby they can read the poems with the intention of understanding, appreciation, and contemplation. The use of everyday metaphors allows Şükrü Erbaş to bridge the poetic world and the real world, with an imbued sense of symbiosis. This lucid and simple language has, endeared himself to the reading public of Turkey, and allowed his poems to touch all members of society, who approach his work with casual curiosity; and when they have closed the clovers of his volumes, are gifted with a unique poetic vision that at no point in time, pontificated from the ivory tower of academia; but presented rather a natural soothing language, which could be found at a park bench, café, or down the street.
Doris Kareva – Estonia – The poet as the pearl conceived within the soul and spirt of the emotional vortex that is the human experience is best described as Doris Kareva. The poetry of Kareva is riddled with the emotional brilliance and resonance. The sole goal of the poetry of Doris Kareva is ot be felt and understood through emotive sensations and sensory tuning. Known for diving and plummeting to the deepest aspects of the emotional experience, soul, and human experience, Doris Kareva dredges up the fine sands of the human heart, soul, spirit, and shadow. Kareva’s poems are acclaimed and recognized for observing a strict adherence to personal form, one based on brevity and a mercurial shifting notion of clarity, which is striking as poetry is a form condensed and refined to the immediate and implied. Furthermore, Kareva’s poetry is regarded as having a paradoxical movement, by employing both vivid imagery, clear diction, while an otherwise ambiguous or shifting meaning, which relies on the emotional responses of the readers to imbued, inflect, or guide any semblance of meaning. Despite the varied interpretations for her poetry is open to and willing to be red by all those who open its clime like shell in order to gaze and the wonder inside. The poems of Doris Kareva are not historical chronicles, or epic in scope or vision, which often means they’re misclassified as feminine in nature o pertaining to the sensibilities of femininity, which can be interpreted as ‘less then,’ in scope and perspective. This is an otherwise chauvinistic and absurdist sensibility, where one views literature on the dichotomous scale of gender, where a male poets concern themselves with the preoccupations of history, human destiny and philosophical ruminations; while female poets are only capable of producing romantic lyricism, or poetry about family life, and domesticity. Doris Kareva may not be concerned with the epicist perspective of historical recounts and legendary myth making, but her exploration of the emotional context, human destiny, and mercurial workings of the soul, is the highest quality poetry on a global literary stage. When reviewing Doris Kareva’s poetry they will find a pearl as stunning, ethereal, and elusive as the dawn, in which the sun has yet to slip above the horizon; it is there her poems glimmer with boundless meanings and interpretations, each depending on the personal characteristics of the beholder. Doris Kareva’s poetry is anything but anemic. It vibrates with the emotional intensity of life lived, contemplated, and bruised. Kareva’s poetry has received appreciation and acknowledgement in the English language as well. A recent translation of her poetry: “Days of Grace,” has been well received by critics and readers a like, who admire Doris Kareva’s multifaceted meaning through emotional lens, harmonic grace, economic clarity, and expanding thought throughout out the collection.
Pierre Michon – France – Pierre Michon is one of those quiet writers of French Literature. He does not capture the controversy of Michel Houellebecq or Virginie Despentes; he does not exhume the private, personal, or sensitive like Christine Angot and turn into some tabloid literary feature; he doesn’t quite have the obsessive brooding preoccupations of Patrick Modiano; or the expansive explorative eye as J.M.G Le Clezio. Rather, Pierre Michon, quietly sits back and writes otherwise strange or obscure novels that never make a headline; but gain cult notoriety amongst his readers. His prose is both dense as it is intense, despite his work generally being relatively short in comparison to other notorious dense writers such as: Laszlo Krasznahorkai or Peter Nadas. Any sensation of discouragement or weariness felt towards his work should be dissuaded. Michon is not necessarily a poetic babbling blowhard, challenging but not without reward. Though his work carries poetic symphonic qualities, it is not necessarily pontificating pretense, which seeks to alienate the reader. Patience is still required, as Pierre Michon is barely interested in narratives, story arches, or plot. Instead, his work carries the concern for the subject itself—be it lost and forgotten saints, abbots, and monks; or the strange workings of the heart, portrayed amongst the background and context of Paleolithic cave art, echoing through time. Michon is not a warm writer either. His work carries a cold clinician’s eye, with a voice echoing through the marble amphitheatre, into the obsidian catacombs below. Pierre Michon’s work carries little regarding empathy, but an increasingly obsessive attitude towards his immediate subject, be it tangible or cerebral; memory driven, or fictious. Despite the otherwise contrary nature of the author and his work, it has not halted or reduced his career, as he has been granted with numerous literary prizes including the Franz Kafka Prize in two-thousand and nineteen, which only shows his growing appeal and recognition on a international stage. Pierre Michon has always maintained one preccoupation with his literary work: the preoccupation of the microcosmic in relation to macro elements and events. 
Magdalena Tulli – Poland – The literary family tree of Magdalena Tulli houses the apples of: Bruno Schulz, Daniil Kharms, Franz Kafka, and Jorge Luis Borges. The roots firmly anchor this tree deep into the earth. The apples are often warped, surreal, and carry the tinge of cynical bitterness, riddled with the absurd, and at times the surreal. When one drops and begins the slow process of decay, one can spy in its fermenting juices and rotting peels, a world ending. A city of steel, brick, and glass collapses. The sky once distant now encases in closure. The sidewalks crack; while the roads warp. The seeds remain as postmodern jewels, offering inclinations of the fragmented realities, narratives, and stories beneath the last material, which has yet to decay. The world of Magdalena Tulli is continually in a state of postmodern creation and maintenance; disrepair and repair. Her novel “Dreams and Stones,” recounts the creation myth, through the postmodern lens, and creates a narrative that has neither narrator, character(s), story, narrative, or plot; but rather recounts through the objective perspective of some distant and haphazard voice, in the most poetic documentary tone, the creation of a city, being either created or rebuilt through the wishes and dreams of the populace. The novel is characterized in a polarizing fashion. Some have described it a work of poetic prose (or prose poem); while Magdalena Tuli maintains with singular certainty that it is a novel. It has been called a critique of the traditional creation myth, as well as dissertation on the apocalypse. Others have deemed it an allegorical rendering of the rebuilding of Warsaw, after the Second World War. The author offers no elucidation to either claim, and instead promotes the interpretation readers and critics entertain. These metafictional qualities, first established in “Dreams and Stones,” would follow later on in her other novels: “Moving Parts,” “Flaw,” and “In Red,” where gradually traditional elements of novels were introduced, though always with postmodern twists, and often playfully; until finally settling on the most conventional notion of a novel—at least by Magdalena Tulli’s fashion. Her latest works, yet to be translated, take a more autobiographical approach to her literary. They are introspective journeys, where Tulli traces the shadow of the Second World War and the Holocausts impact on her mother, who had survived the concentration camps, but carried the shadow into her life afterwards, and subsequently endowed it on to her own daughter, who grappled with notions of guilt, grief, and death from an early age. The works of Magdalena Tulli are true feats of a literary master mind. Her production is little and slow, but the quality is world class. Her literary language is dense, poetic, and lush. It riddles with vibrant images, metaphors, and symbolism. She is able to deconstruct the world with surgical precision, and in its ruin reconstruct yet another world of a completely different shape and form. In Magdalena Tulli’s literary work perception creates and shapes reality and defines how an individual interacts with it. Magdalena Tulli is talented, as much as she is a literary genius. A truly remarkable writer, who is deprived of the appreciation she deserves. However, the recent Nobel no provided to Olga Tokarczuk will hinder Tulli’s chances in the immediate future.
Leonard Nolens – Belgium – When it comes to Flemish language poetry, Leonard Nolens would be considered the most striking and distinguished contemporary representative at work. Nolens entire oeuvre is described as encompassing and uncompromising. His early work is noted for being experimental, hermetic, and baroque inspired; while his later works are noted for eschewing his earlier experimental forms, hermetic styles, and abandoning baroque influence, in favour of a more somber and plain language. Despite striping his poetic style of baroque ornamentation and experimental forms, in favour of a more conversational and approachable language, Nolens poetry has not lost its desire to host discussions on a range of subjects, though philosophical and profound in nature. Apart from being a poet, Leonard Nolens is a noted memoirist (or diarist). His recent collections of poetry have seen Nolens depart from the singular ‘I,’ and move towards the interpersonal ‘we,’ in his poetry. His recent collection of poetry: “Tell the Children We’re No Good,” is a collection of poems which has been described as generational with the use of ‘we,’ and personal with the salt and pepper of ‘I.’ In this collection of poems, Nolens warningly reflects on his generation, but also casts a critical and honest eye on its blunders. The shift from the singular to communal shows Leonard Nolens desire to move beyond the personal to the collective with his discussions, observations, and thoughts.
Ersi Sotiropoulos – Greece – A personal favourite, Ersi Sotiropoulos is one of the most critically acclaimed Greek poets and writers at work in contemporary Greek literature. Her novel “Zig Zag Through The Bitter Orange Trees,” was praised as the best book of the decade at the turn of the twenty-first century, and became the first novel to win both the Greek State Prize for Literature, as well as the Book Critics Award. Sotiropoulos is often described as an avant-garde writer, which may shock those who are first introduced to her work. Her prose is clean, deprived of unnecessary ornamentation, and it’s skillfully designed with jeweler’s eye for accessible filigree. Yet below the surface of the bone bare prose, one begins to see her experimental or avant-garde characteristics come through. Her short stories depict the uncertain grounds of relationships; either between parent and child, husband and wife, or brother and sister; as a reader, one is not entirely away of how they reached such a sudden, or absurd, or violent climax as if the characters reasoning or rational are exaggerated or over reactionary for the situation. Her recent work is noted for tracing the bankruptcy of the Greek soul, as the financial crisis has emptied the wallets of its citizens, caused political discourse and uncertainty, and drained moral character from the state. “Eva,” employees the female psyche of the character Eva, to offer an x-ray and diagnostic imaging of the complete collapse of Greece’s moral infrastructure, its political institutions, and its citizens in crisis and fear; as the financial crisis pillages and pilfers the Greek populace of hope, stability, and places them on the edge of collapse and ruin. Her most recent English translation is the fictionalized three-day sojourn in Paris, of the Egyptian-Greek poet, Constantine P. Cavafy. Ersi Sotiropoulos had called, Cavafy, a monumental Greek poet of the last century. The only two Greek writers to have received the Nobel Prize for Literature in the past were poets: Giorgos Seferis and Odysseas Elytis. They are classics in scale and scope, heralding back to the ancient Greek lyrical traditions, though with modern though, association, and perspectives. Ersi Sotiropoulos maintains a noticeable distance between herself and these poets, and the classical nature of Greek literature, and has provided commentary on the Age of Austerity in her novel “Eva,” (not yet translated into English) where the titular character, escapes a Christmas Eve party to roam the ghost streets of Athens and encounters the desperation thriving under the oppressive atmosphere of austerity and fiscal restraint. Her other novel “I Think I Might Like You,” (also as of yet not translated into English) recounts the relationship of two lovers through the epistolary novel format, though with modern telecommunication methods.
Javier Marias – Spain – Javier Marias, is one of Spain’s most renowned, recognized, and established writers, with international recognition and appeal—especially towards English language readers. He studied English philology, translated classic of English Literature into Spanish, as well as lectured at Oxford on the art of translation. Javiar Maris had an upbringing, surrounded by intellectualism and dissidence; his father a Spanish philosopher was persecuted by Franco’s regime, and was imprisoned, for his teachings and criticisms. Due to the hostility of Spain under Franco’s rule, Javiar Maris along with his family, moved briefly to the United States, where his father lectured at universities. Throughout his childhood and adolescences, Javiar Maris proved himself as a literary prodigy; writing his first ‘mature,’ short story when he was fourteen and later publishing in a collection of short stories titled: “While the Women are Sleeping.” He published his first novel at the age of seventeen, and his second novel while studying in university. His work is noted for its postmodern pastiche and playfulness, combing genres, themes, and preoccupations to bring a conceptive fragmented perspective of the modern world, while remaining a sense of humour and playfulness. He is regarded as one of most important contemporary Spanish language writers currently at work.
László Krasznahorkai – Hungary – The Hungarian monk of The Apocalypse, gained immediate recognition and notoriety when his infamously long, dense, difficult, and mammoth novels began to appear in English translation. Even before his works were translated, they had a reputation in European literary scenes. The sentences of Krasznahorkai have always gained attention from readers and critics, those serpentine black rivers of ink and text, continue for pages, soldered together with comas, semicolons, and colons. When a period does make an appearance its merely a break, not a finite end. László Krasznahorkai’s work is marred with dread and unease, an otherwise disquieting atmosphere. The landscape of Krasznahorkai’s narratives take place in a strange Kafkaesque landscape: rural Soviet collective farms, poor communities, ruins of desperation, bars of neither character nor charm, or desolate artistic retreats. From there, like some aged underground Rockstar turned monkish prophet, László Krasznahorkai provides the narrative of those who call such places home. In this same fashion, the youthful, educated and hipster academics picked up the Hungarian writer as some literary fashion statement, trading his books like postmodern currency. His works stuck home for them: he is dark, strange, and desolate; a writer completely different then what constitutes as contemporary American Literature, with its usual brand of bread and butter of family dramas, narratives, and otherwise rehashing postmortem novels parading themselves as postmodern greats. László Krasznahorkai provides a reprieve from the otherwise stagnant literary scene of the Americas; with his bleak landscapes, despair ridden characters, and bleak humour flows endlessly through the slow-moving lava text. On a personal note, my reading experience with László Krasznahorkai, is one based off respect, but lukewarm enjoyment. His work requires the level of care, patience, tolerance, and marathonic resilience and tenacity, which I do not have. There is respect in what he can do, what he has done, his discipline to his form, his unrelentless singular spirit and dedication to his style, preoccupation, and themes, it’s still not a literary work which I find easy or enjoyable in consumption. One cannot deny his work for being masterful in craft, monumental in form, and foreboding in deliverance, László Krasznahorkai is uncompromising, which is also what endears him to his readers.  László Krasznahorkai is a giant of global letters and international literature, his shadow is eclipsing, and undeniable. The talents of his work blister and push forward. Denying, Krasznahorkai his place on the literary stage is inappropriate, if not impossible. The Nobel Prize for Literature would not be a surprise for the author, and this point one is merely discussing when not if; though advise all against speaking in such absolute terms, as the Swedish Academy has proven time and time again, they do not enjoy being predictable or complacent. Though I truly do think that its merely a matter of when for László Krasznahorkai, there is no point in denying the postmodern master of the apocalypse.
Dag Solstad – Norway – As many writers do in their youth, Dag Solstad, began his literary career with great controversy in his youth, by writing blatant political narratives, which sympathized and even promoted Lenin-Marxist ideals. Sand and time have the marvelous ability to smoothing out the coarse and pompous edges of youth, and soon Dag Solstad would abandon his less then bashful political themes for more philosophical and existential ruminations. His prose and his work is considered some of the best of Norway, and the gold standard of comparison. Solstad’s mature work is known for focusing on the existential crisis’s of the everyday man who deals with abandonment, the passage of time, the frustrations of life, and the attempts at creating meaning in another wise meaningless world, deprived of any universal concepts or contexts of higher sense of meaning beyond the ones in which the individual is responsible to give it. Yet, what if the individual is incapable of giving their life meaning, beyond the pointlessness of job and paycheque? Dag Solstad ponders and wonders about these everyday existential individuals who continuously find themselves abandoned and realizing their life has past and left them stranded on the flotsam and jetsam of life’s shipwreck, adrift in a sea apathetic and disinterested in their course of life. His work has been called philosophical, political, and experimental—all of which does not matter to Solstad, whose peculiar and particular breed of writing and ironic sense of realism, continuous to provoke the imagination and ask questions about human destiny in the world. 
Zsuzsa Takács – Hungary – the “doyenne of contemporary Hungarian Poetry,” as described by World Literature Today; though Zsuzsa Takács is often overlooked by comparison to other contemporary and widely translated Hungarian writers: László Krasznahorkai and Péter Nadas, who are noted for their dense, philosophical, and at times apocalyptic works, which are deemed the highest caliber of serious literature. Despite this, Zsuzsa Takács has been a quiet voice, but striking voice within the wings, her poetry striking, forceful and sharp. Since her initial debut in the nineteen-seventies, Takács poetic voice was already developed, with motifs that would reoccur continually: urban landscape items: trams, streets, and promenades along the waterfront. Takács, poetic themes range from transformation and metamorphosis to love and death; all the while wrapped up in her signature ironic humour, with its misunderstandings, and double-entendres. Zsuzsa Takács is a unique poet in Hungary. She followed the Postwar Poet, who in returned gave their blessings and praise, to her early poetic work. She had the privilege of observing her country’s metamorphosis since her debut, from one ideology to another—from the stifiling political atmosphere of the Soviet Union, complete with ideological constraints, and demands; to the independent nation of Hungary, which now moves towards a stronger more ‘ultra-nationalistic,’ perspective, in contemporary politics. In her early poems, she discussed homelessness as a state of existence, and then remarked on the claustrophobic realities of: apartments, rooms, and hospital wards. Zsuzsa Takács most recent collections of poems showcase her own literary transfigurations, where alongside the poems, the writer had also included works of prose (short stories or prose poems), in which she comments on the poetry of others, and her own.  Zsuzsa Takács is a Hungarian treasure, one who is waiting for greater English introductions. 
Jón Kalman Stefánsson – Iceland – Iceland is a small nation residing in the Atlantic Ocean, who’s closest neighbours include: the Faroe Islands and Greenland; while further on Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (specifically Scotland). Despite being small, Iceland is regarded as one of the most literary in the world. Icelandic authors are also no strangers in finding success in translation, and are often noted for its powerful literary talents, such as the lyricist turned prose writer: Sjon. Jón Kalman Stefánsson is a dark horse of Iceland letters. His novels carry unique and often foreboding titles: “Heaven and Hell,” and “About The Size of the Universe.” The novels of Jón Kalman Stefánsson beckon forth the Medieval Iceland Saga’s of the past. They trace the profound exploration of life, love, desire, and of course death, all in the rugged, harsh, and breathtaking landscape of Iceland, a land of fire and ice. Jón Kalman Stefánsson has been nominated for the Booker International Prize, as well as the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize on four different occasions. He is an author who with a profound simplicity remains concerned with the human condition’s primeval nature, which lurks beneath our societal image of ourselves; there lurks the carnal and primal urges, hankering for release, through the unabashed and raw need for desire. All of this is recounted through the deceptive simplicity of prose, detailed with a poet’s acumen to mine right to the heart of the matter, with a keen philosophical eye, continually observing the wayward wills and oppression of the human condition.  Jón Kalman Stefánsson, came to more prominent attention last year, when he was considered one of the nominees for the revolutionary ‘New Academy Literature Prize,’ which sought to fill the void left behind by the absent Nobel Prize for Literature. Since then Jón Kalman Stefánsson, has been mulled and ruminated on as a possible, contender—but no more than any other writer.
Viivi Luik – Estonia – Some writers sit or remain dormant after becoming their initial publication. They are unsure if they can repeat the success of their first work. Others never reached any success the first time around and worry about publishing into the void again. Viivi Luik has never had an issue with publishing. She has been described as the Estonia literary ‘wunderkid,’ her first collection of poetry was published when she was eighteen in the Estonian Literary Golden Years of the nineteen-sixties, and she was noted for being a changing wind in the Estonian literary scene. This is perhaps why, Viivi Luik is often regarded as the Canary poet, for her ability to take note of the changing poetic predilections, sociopolitical atmosphere, and economic tides, but also the personal, private, and sensual changes of the human heart. Her poetry is often noted for its chameleon like flexibility, nimble measures, and undying musicality. Her poetic forms often reflect and refract, personal observations, private moments, intimate minuets, into the mystical and universal, through the metaphors and lens of the natural world, landscape, and other external forces. Her poetic voice is ever sensual, preceptive, and understanding of the world in which we all inhabit, but experience is such different and unique measures. Beyond her poetry, Viivi Luik has also published three novels. Her first two novels were noted for their immediate poeticized language. Language, experience, and the depiction of the intimate and immediate, are often noted as focal points of the novels, not the usual narrative structures typically used in prose deconstruction and criticism. These first two novels were noted for their depiction of the political situations of the Eastern Europe and life behind the Iron Curtain in the grand Soviet Union. “The Seventh Spring of Peace,” tells the story of an Estonian childhood, riddled with absurdity, fear, and paranoia, in the countryside, as a child seeks to make sense of the macro machinations of the world around them, fit with fear and uncertainty. “The Beauty of History,” recounts the love story of a young woman and a young man, during the Prague Spring, and reflects the mentality and reality of the Baltics at the time, and the malaise of Eastern Europe in its grey fortification. Viivi Luik has also written, essays on matters of art, literature, and the conceptual meaning human beings bring to them. She is one of Estonia’s most beloved and special writers, who is unfortunately under translated and underappreciate
Kjell Askildsen – Norway – Kjell Askildsen is regarded as one of the most important Norwegian writers working in the contemporary short story; often characterized as a master of the form. His short stories, utilize minimal language and bare bone plots, to showcase human relationships at their most intimate and fraught, where moments of misunderstanding explode and crumble the foundations of time and age, which has supported the characters. His work has had a lasting impact on Scandinavian literature, as he is often considered a mentor of many new and young contemporary writers. Despite the intimate nature of the short story, and the fact that Askildsen focuses on relationships within his work, there is glacial permafrost which is imbedded in his work. His landscapes are derelict and almost apocalyptic in their Beckettian minimal bleakness, with similar draperies and events going through them, ashtrays and stale cigarette butts, beer, coffee, as well as funerals. In such a timeless void, deprived of coherent sense of time and place, there is little for the characters to hope for, and so they succumb sexual impulses, and dream of erotic desires to keep them company. In his machine-like prose, with its repetitive mantras, and steely accuracy, now rusted by time and fate, but not forgotten; Kjell Askildsen presents the plight of the contemporary human: continually envisioning and craving for the warmth and intimacy of companionship, but is thwarted by misunderstandings, and in the end left disenfranchised and disposed in a world deprived of such luxuries, simply by human failure and fault.
Sjon – Iceland – There is perhaps no other Icelandic author who is as well known in the English language readership quite like Sjon, whose work spans multiple literary formats including poetry, drama, and novels. As a writer Sjon has also participates in collaborative ventures with other creative individuals in different spheres, such as the Icelandic singer Bjork in the composition of her songs, as well as participating in scriptwriting for films. Despite poetry being SJon’s first foray into the literary scene, with his often-experimental poetry being published and endeared by readers early on, Sjon found greater success with his novels. “The Blue Fox,” was the first novel to gain Sjon a paramount literary reputation. The whimsical tale behaved like a blend of fairytale and historical narrative (if by time alone), the novel went on to receive the Nordic Council Literature Prize. “The Blue Fox,” ensured that Sjon would become a perennial writer in English translation and has since been invited to participate in the Future Library Project. Much like Gyrðir Elíasson, Sjon does not pay homage to the great sagas of Iceland’s literary past, but instead has carved out a uniquely postmodern perspective to provided a fragmented overview of the strange and perplexing world we currently inhabit, one which faces climate crisis, self-inflicted annihilation, political fallout, rising and evolving technology that both helps the world, but also creates further class division, and present us with ever greater utopias and dystopian possibilities.
Ryszard Krynicki – Poland – A contemporary of the late Adam Zagajewski, Ryszard Krynicki also belongs to the literary movement and generation aptly called: Generation ’68; in reference to the political movement of the late sixties and early seventies of the Twentieth Century. The early poetry of Ryszard Krynicki is noted for its accumulative and pointed imagery, reflecting the meaninglessness, the danger, the oppression, and the uncertainty of the time. Krynicki’s poetry was depicted as hostile, and threatening, a wasteland of corruption, which took its toll of the everyday individual, in the most exact and taxing of manners, slowly stripping them of their dignity, their humanity, and their freedoms. The ‘narrators,’ or ‘protagonists,’ of his poetry often remark at the incomprehensibility of their realities, an unknowing inclination, a bewildered disorientation, and an attempt to revolt against the falsehoods of ideology and communist: “new speak.” Due to his open disregard and dissent against the reigning political movement of the time, Ryszard Krynicki was censored and forbidden from publishing. This did not stop his literary output or his outright refusal to abide by the communist rule of the time, which was slowly beginning to erode, implosion now: certain. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the abandonment of the communist ideology, and a newfound sense of independence, the perspective of Eastern Europe began to change. Some Eastern European countries failed to get a ride on the economic train, which was passing through, while others such as Poland, Czechia, a unified Germany, and Estonia quickly took advantage of the newfound freedom. The poetry of Ryszard Krynicki also changed into a different direction, moving away from the multifaceted postmodern baroque poetry of the communist era, Krynicki took short poetic discussions, reministicent of haikus, where instead of seeking political autonomy, freedom, and social liberty, they are reminiscent of a spiritual pilgrimage.
Mircea Cartarescu – Romania – Mircea Cartarescu, is one of the most critically acclaimed and well-known Romanian writers, currently at work today. He is a respected poet and prose writer, who began his literary endeavors as a rebellious poet, belonging to the ‘Blue Jean Generation.’ Yet, since begin his literary career, Cartarescu has moved beyond his youthful literary beginnings of the eighties and has become a revered Romanian postmodernist master. His first prose work was a collection of five short stories called “Nostalgia,” which already began to show the developing themes and styles of Cartarescus later works. His most well-known and praised work however is his ‘Orbitor,’ trilogy, which had taken fourteen years to compose, and spans more than a thousand pages. The trilogy is noted for its attention to detail, fine-tuned language, and hallucinogenic prose. “Blinding: Volume 1, the Left Wing,” is the only part of the trilogy currently translated into English, and is a massive novel to get through; but the prose is sensual, vivid, surreal, engrossing and a true delight to read; though one should take their time to read it, to savour it, and its audacious romp through history, memories (envisioned, embellished, and honest), and the mythical city of Bucharest.
Claudio Magris – Italy – In the same fashion as the late Roberto Calasso, Claudio Magris is a polemist, whose work is essay based then narrative or poetry or drama. Perhaps most famous for his travelogue and historiographical account “Danube,” where Magris traces the famous European river from its wellspring to its eventual end, and through every country, town, countryside, culture, language, and writer who who heralds from the region, Claudio Magris pays special attention to each. “Danube,” is as much a historical travelogue as it was a literary exploration. Other works include “Snapshots,” brief essayistic accounts and observations from the controversial to the personal. “Journeying,” is yet another collection of travel essays by one of the most renowned and remarkable Italian language observers and writers, “Journeying,” accounts the impressions, observations and thoughts Magris recorded through his travels, transforming the travelogue form further into a scholarly approach. Claudio Magris would be a unique choice for the Nobel Prize for Literature, a writer of essayistic approach, though precedence can be argued in favour of Magris with such Laureates as Svetlana Alexievich who is often viewed as a journalist and historian, and Bertrand Russell who was a mathematician and a philosopher.
Mikhail Shishkin – Russia – Russian literature has long been known as the grand gold standard of literature. Its golden writers from: Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Alexander Pushkin, and Anton Chekhov, retain their relevancy and their provocative powers to this day. Though Russia’s history is noted for its darker periods, and the Soviet Union, may have crushed many intellectual pursuits, the Silver Age persevered with: Anna Akhmatova, Boris Pasternak, and Ivan Bunin, which soon passed its moonlight glow on to later twentieth century writers: Joseph Brodsky, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and Marina Tsvetaeva. The torch from its radiant golden sun to its gentle silver moon, passed on and on. Today, Mikhail Shishkin is considered one of the most prominent and acclaimed writers of twenty-first century Russian literature. Shishkin is well revered for his beautiful, lush language, which is praised for its lyricism and delivered magisterial control. Mikhail Shishkin is noted for tackling large themes and preoccupations in his work such as history, time, love (ever eternal), death and the resurrecting properties of memory. His work are grand scale epics, echoing the Golden Age of Russian literature; he is quoted to saying his major Russian influences are Leo Tolstoy, who taught him not to be afraid of naivety. Anton Chekhov who passed on his love and devotion to humanity. As well as Ivan Bunin, who encouraged him to never compromise. Alongside his influences, Shishkin has been compared to James Joyce and Vladimir Nabokov. Despite being praised as of the most important and influential Russian writers at work today, Mikhail Shishkin’s relationship with Russia is complicated. He currently resides in Zurich, Switzerland, where he has worked as an interpreter for refugees. Mikhail Shishkin is a staunch critic of Putin and his government, calling it a regime riddled with corruption and filled with criminals. Despite his universally daunting themes, his complex use of language written with lyrical elegance; Mikhail Shishkin is known for probing emotional destinies alongside the ethereal elements, which rule with intangible presence, and yet all too real authority. He has been described as a living classic, and an exceptional example of a writer who blends the Golden Age realism and romanticism of Russian literature, with postmodern sensibilities, as he seeks to broaden the Russian dialogue of literature once again, away from the political paranoia, prisons, and gulags of the Soviet Union.
António Lobo Antunes – Portugal – António Lobo Antunes is the Portuguese postmodernist master of prose. His novels follow in a similar fashion of other postmodernist writers such as: Samuel Beckett, Thomas Bernhard, and László Krasznahorkai. António Lobo Antunes work is known for being long and exhaustive. Antunes novels are especially well known for being difficult to read, as they the form of the stream of consciousness monologue. The monologues which narrate his novels are known to employee long and winding sentences, where they release their vitriolic perspective on the reader, regarding the nature of life, the human condition, politics, and every other subject that can be unearthed under the sun. Generally, António Lobo Antunes’s novels recount some historical reference or experience either with war of oppression—reflecting both the authors experience, as a doctor in Algeria during Portugal’s colonial wars, and his experience under Salazar’s dictatorship. His novels are often described as an old man, who releases and unburdens himself of his experiences of violence and death at any listeners or person who has an ear to spare, and time to tolerantly pass, with a man on the verge of madness, begging to relinquish his experiences of mankind at its worst. This often violent and somber perspective comes from António Lobo Antunes work as a doctor, both Portugal’s colonial wars, Angola’s war of independence, as well as his later work as a psychiatrist. His prose is noted to being influenced and reminiscent of William Faulkner, and his themes are grand, while his format difficult but rewarding—that if you get past the vitriolic onslaught of mankind at its worst.
Péter Nadas – Hungary – Peter Nadas, has often been compared to Marcel Proust, for his preoccupation with memory and times passage; but also perhaps because of his obscenely long novels; “Parallel Stories,” alone is extraordinarily large, with a page of one-thousand five hundred and twenty pages, and took the author eighteen years to write. Both his parents were illegal Communists during World War II, but survived the war, and found stability under the Communist dictatorship. Nadas’s father, was head of a government department, before being accused of embezzlement, though he was exonerated of all charges and accusations brought against him, he would commit suicide after the ordeal; his mother, died when Peter was thirteen succumbing to an illness. After his father’s suicide at sixteen, Nadas was an orphan. He trained to be a journalist and a photographer, and for a few years worked as journalist and a photographer, before freelancing and writing fulltime. Since then, Peter Nadas has been of the most renowned and well-known Hungarian of contemporary literature, along with László Krasznahorkai. Much like his contemporary (Krasznahorkai) is known for his doorstopper novels, and his uncompromising style, which again requires readers to armed with stamina, tolerance, and patience, as they tread the memory laden works, as they probe the historical and the personal.
Asia & the Indo-Subcontinent—
Wang Anyi- China – Eileen Chang was considered the literary jewel and darling of Shanghai before the Chinese Civil War, the Communist victory and the subsequent Cultural Revolution and the eventual takeover of the Communist Party of China. Chang’s novels were known for their fashionable tastes, while also riddled with literary sensibilities. By the 1950s, Eileen Chang had left China, and would later settle in the United States, where she became a recluse and died alone in her home in 1995. Wang Anyi is often compared to her cosmopolitan predecessor, Eileen Chang, because both writers have written fervently and devotedly about Shanghai. Eileen Chang escaped The Cultural Revolution of Mao Zedong, while Wang Any came of age in it, where she was forcefully removed from Shanghai and sent to the rural China for ‘re-education.’ These early experiences impacted the writers’ literary perspectives, as she was not granted permission to return to Shanghai until the late 1970’s, at which point her literary career began to take hold. Initially, Wang Any wrote about the day-to-day lives of the people she imagined, disregarding the overtly socially influenced and politically fabricated themes demanded by the Communist Part of China. By writing about the everyday and the common place, Anyi was able to avoid censors or political repercussions. Until was not until she was granted permission to attention the International Iowa’s Writers Workshop, that her literary work grappled with more engaged perspectives of the China novel, and wrote with a more socially engaged attributes, which led to controversy and discussion. Though not politically inflammatory in nature which would provoke the ire and consequence of the Communist Party. Anyi did challenge social and conventional taboos such as carnal love and homosexuality (in a platonic format). Despite her prolific output and writing, Wang Anyi is most recognized for her novel: “The Song of Everlasting Sorrow,” in the English literary world. The novel recounts the life of a woman born in the 1940’s Shanghai, and traces her through the Second World War, the Chinese Civil War, the Cultural Revolution, as well as her life post-Cultural Revolution. “The Song of Everlasting Sorrow,” is a prime example of Wang Anyi’s literary preoccupations and themes: the attention to urban life in Shanghai riddled with brutal destinies, long lines, dead end jobs, futile waiting, and indomitable jostling and rudeness of the anonymity of the urbanized world.
Choi Seung-ja - (South) Korea - (South) Korean poetry has been dominated by Ko Un (at least on the international stage). Ko Un is often considered the perennial Nobel Prize for Literature candidate heralding from the Korean Peninsula. Yet, through government intervention, investment and promotion, Korean literature has become a staple of the Translated Literature market. This promotion has brought to light many writers who have gained solid footholds in English translation, such as: Han Kang, Bae Suah, and Hwang Sok-yong; who have also proven that Korean literature is not just riddled with poetry. Korean poetry has been an important cultural influence, especially during the 1980's and the democratization movement, where prose lagged the necessity to record the pulse of the movement and moment at that specific time. Prose can only ruminate after, while poetry can encapsulate immediately. Poetry also became the slogans and chants of the movement, recited by the people, and painted on the facades of buildings. Poetry became both a participant and transcriptionist of the movement. Much like the poets: Moon Chung-hee and Kim Hyesoon; Choi Seung-ja is best described as a feminist's poet. Unlike Moon Chung-hee, the subtlety of revolt is neglected in favour of explicit exact revolution in perspective. Though, where Kim Hyesoon is perhaps more post-modernist and shamanistic in her poetry, recalling the old traditions of Korean mysticism into a postmodern and convoluted realities of the new world. Choi Seung-ja, maintains the emboldened firebrand virtues paraded by Kim Hyesoon, but does not subscribe to the shamanistic perspectives or traditions. In lieu, Choi Seung-ja writes with unflinching clarity, vitriol and pointedness that penetrates the reader. Her work is uncompromising and unflinching in its existential examinations and social critiques. The poet’s personal vivisection and clinical observations of one's own personal experience, framed within the confines of social realities and expectations, becomes a twisted portrait of reality that is cruel as it is malicious, haunted with the putrid reality of a eventual death, which is both existential expectation and conclusions, and perhaps the only state of reprieve. Her later poetry has been marked with less brutal and ferocious. Though death is noted and circles in the peripherals and margins of the poet's work; the imagery and subject has become less revolting and abrupt. Instead, the later poetic work of Choi Seung-ja is marked with a more subdued acceptance of the ennui of life, time passing by and death encroaching, though the venom has since subsided. On a final note, fellow poet and contemporary, Kim Hyesoon described the poetry of Choi Seung-ja as "the moans of pain by someone who has not been loved."
Duong Thu Huong – Vietnam – The Vietnam War was often considered one of the biggest political and military blunders of the 20th Century. Just like its predecessor the Korean War, which divided (and still divides) the Korean Peninsula; the Vietnam War rouse suspicion and questions of the ethical efficacy of the American War Machine, which had been glorified and promoted during the Second World War (and intermediate post-war years) as unstoppable in its victorious virtues. The Vietnam War, by contrast presented the notion of war not as a patriotic parade, but one of horror, trauma, and often inhumane slaughter. The rise of mass media showcased its ability to present a narrative to both gather support of the public, but also their accusations of savagery.  The war itself did not unite a country; it divided it. Since then, the translation of Vietnamese literature has been rare and often limited. Duong Thu Huong has often been the most translated Vietnamese writer in the English language, mainly due to her work being dissident in nature. In 1989, Duong Thu Huong was expelled from the Communist Party for her criticism of the rampant corruption in the communist government. She would later be imprisoned for her critical writings against the government, subsequently she would lose her job as a prizewinning screenwriter, her works were banned from publication, and she was forced to earn a living as a translator. Further insult was added, as the writer was prohibited from forming any group, party, or movement which could be seen as operating in complete contrast or autonomous to the government. In order for Duong Thu Huong to express commentary on freedom and democracy for Vietnam, Thu Huong would need to turn to her pen, but was denied publication and threatened with further imprisonment. In 2006, Duong Thu Huong was granted permission to leave Vietnam, and has since resided in exile in Paris, where she promotes change through uncensored and critical writings. Her novels and stories often take the form of conventional narratives and stories, often with subtle political annotations and context, from there the author is able to provide a fierce and fiery barrage of criticism levelled against the communist government of Vietnam, and the corrupting eroding influence it has on the state and the citizens. In this case, Duong Thu Huong is considered one of the strongest writers in translation heralding from Vietnam, based off translation quantity alone, and the rarity the countries literature has found in other foreign languages. The promotion of humanistic ideals: freedom of speech and thought, independence, autonomy, are strong pillars of the author to stand on as well.
Yōko Ogawa – Japan – It has been only recently that Yōko Ogawa has received a warmer introduction in the English language literature world, with the publication of the translation of her novel: “The Memory Police.” The novel despite being originally written decades prior, became a metaphorical parable of the COVID-19 Pandemic, which was shortlisted the Booker International Prize. The drought and lack of appetite for reading Yōko Ogawa’s work in the English language, is that Haruki Murakami has been the dominate Japanese writer in English translation. Murakami is accessible and very western orientated, which means English readers can consume his books without alienation while still maintaining that illusion of ‘exotic foreign literary flare.’ Publishing is first and foremost, and every publishing began to search for the next Murakami, and some mistakenly attempt to market Ogawa as another version, which is the speculation why Yōko Ogawa is scantly translated into the English language. On the contrary though, Ogawa has found a devote readership, with lengthy translations and publications of her work in France. Yōko Ogawa’s literary output is noted for its grotesque, macabre, and subtle violent tropes. Her literary themes are centered around the ideas of memory, loss, and absence. This immediately distinguishes her from her contemporary, Haruki Murakami, whose uses more surreal dreamscapes, and magical realism romps; where Yōko Ogawa fixates on more psychological, interpersonal, and intrapersonal environments, with the subtle inclinations of the visceral and vicious lurking around the mundane edges. Ogawa’s literary language it straightforward and plain, though it will verge on the subtle, poetic. while never entering the stages of extraordinary lyricism. She has been endorsed by fellow countrymen and Nobel Laureate Kenzaburō Ōe; who has praised Ogawa for giving expression to the subtle psychological workings of the human mind, through prose which is both gentle and searing in its penetrating perspective. Yōko Ogawa is a superb writer, renowned for her unadorned literary style, which explores the peculiarities of memory, and the ghoulish world of loss and absence. Her narratives often fixate on the struggles of outcasts (be it physical or mentally deranged), who are at odds with the claustrophobic society, which seeks and demands conformity, abject assimilation, and superficial perfection. Ogawa traverses the shadows of the modern individual’s psyche, whereby she paints an intimate portrait of a society deceiving itself of its own imperfections and madness; or a society on the brink of losing its own memory in willful consent, in order to escape the tragedies of the past in favour of the uncertainties of the future. Yōko Ogawa’s work is not grand or epic, but rather intimate and endearing, as it fixates on the private and personal tragedies of the individual mirroring and reflecting the experiences of a greater society as a whole, especially the crack which have slowly over time become chasms and canyons, where the macabre and the grotesque dance in the shadow of the abyss, and in the ripe and rotten suppression of modern society.  
Mend-Ooyo Gombojav – Mongolia – Mend-Ooyo Gombojav is considered one of Mongolia’s most critically acclaimed writers. Known for the versatility of forms in which he writes in including poetry, short stories, novels, and essays. He first embarked on a literary career at the age of thirteen when he wrote his first poem under the tutorship of Dorjiin Gombojav, who was his mentor. In his early twenties, Mend-Ooyo Gombojav became a founding member of the underground literary movement called ‘Fire,’ in Mongolia, which would set the stage as an early milestone as a movement revolutionizing and modernizing Mongolian literature. Over the latter half of the twentieth century Mongolia would begin to chance its political landscape, and Mend-Ooyo Gombojav was considered one of the greatest writers shaping and influencing the literary landscape. By the nineties, the singular communist party rule had come to an end, and democratic reforms were taking shape. Free from presenting his work to the communist censors, Mend-Ooyo Gombojav was able to freely write and publish his work without meeting the constraints of ideological demands. During this time, Mend-Ooyo Gombojav wrote extensively about the pastoral and nomadic culture and heritage of Mongolia. These poems are often considered the most important works that Mend-Ooyo Gombojav has produced, as they presented a unified identity of Mongolia through its heritage, by celebrating the nomadic culture and history. Over the past three decades, Mend-Ooyo Gombojav became an increasingly striking, vibrant, and powerful voice in Mongolian literature. His bibliography ranges between his renowned poetry to novels, as well as scholarly and essayistic work.
Kim Hyesoon – (South) Korea – Some female writers who write with an inclination towards feminism, do so in subtle and otherwise graceful ways, without engaging in immediately shocking imagery; Kim Hyesoon, on the other contrary engages in more extreme, almost fanatical poetic discourse. She has been described as an engaged and revolutionary feminist poet, one whose poems are disquieting in their surreal, visceral, and grotesque imagery. In her poetry, Kim Hyesoon readily challenges the (South) Korean opinion and perspective of women in societal standards and hierarchy. Hyesoon readily rips apart these social conventions; and casts a critical eye on the socio-economic system, as the cause of the social hierarchy, and the subjection of woman. Kim Hyesoon views capitalism as directly linked to (South) Korean patriarchal oppression, which views woman as less than, or a lesser status then their male counterparts. Her poems are noted for their visceral, violent, macabre, and grotesque imagery, in which she shockingly displays the uneasy landscape of (South) Korea’s social enclosure, from the perspective of a woman. The political context which at times frames, Hyesoon’s poems, are not entirely clear; though she does criticize the (South) Korea dictatorship, with its willingness to accept neo-colonialism, and indulge itself in a steady diet of unequal capitalism, which has oppressed and disenfranchised the vulnerable and neglected of society. With that in mind, Kim Hyesoon, readily and violently lashed out and rebelled against a system which unjustly and cruelly seeks to oppress half the population (or more), to a status of domestic and martial service, with complete dependence on men. Though her poetry is critical, controversial, visceral, viral and violent, Kim Hyesoon is well revered and respected poet, as she is engaged and actively participates in either changing the system through poetry or at least having an informed debate about the status of women within society. In two-thousand and nineteen she was awarded the Griffin Poetry Prize for her collection: “Autobiography of Death,” which cycles through how individuals and people move through the structure of death, trauma, illness, and injustice.     
Ouyang Jianghe - China - Throughout the 20th Century Chinese poetry has changed with the shifting cultural and political turmoil that has impacted the country. After the Chinese Civil war and the Chinese Communist Revolution, poetry became a indoctrinating psalms of the people, propagating the propaganda and prescribed perspectives of the recent ideological victory. By the mid-20th century, the poem once again shifted its direction into the opaque modern or 'misty school,' of poetry, with such famous poets as: Bei Dao and Duo Duo, who were considered the new voices of Chinese poetry. These poets were nonetheless criticized by their conservative predecessors, who viewed them as obscure and politically dubious (meaning they did not accept the yoke of the Communist ideology), but they were loved by the public, even though the government sought to censor and sanction them. The Misty Poets, however, could not be emblazoned as the torch bearers of the new poetic perspective of China forever. After the calls for democratic reform failed, a new brand and breed of poets took place, often referred to as: "The Post-Obscure Poets." These poets changed the direction of Chinese poetry once again, focusing not on obscurity to provide commentary on politics, but rather to reflect the aesthetic perspective of the new reality, and fixated on the beauty of language over political change or commentary. Politics is still discussed, but in a language that is refined to evade censorship, and politics is no longer the focal point or subject of choice; having since been replaced by reflection and contemplation, no longer motivated by inducing political change. Ouyang Jianghe is a post-obscure poet, who engages in aesthetic and cross-cultural exchanges with writers from across the world; and whose poetry reflects on both Chinese heritage, philosophy, and culture, as well as western philosophy and thought. Through complex language Ouyang Jianghe has become a stalwart defender of poetry, refuting the notion that it has no place within the current literary canon of Chinese Literature. Through cross-cultural exchanges, rumination and reflection, Ouyang Jianghe has carved out his poetic career as being one that is true to form, subject, history, and contemporary concern.
Hwang Sok-yong – (South) Korea – Hwan Sok-yong observed the tragedies and realities of war. During the Vietnam War, he was charged in ‘Clean Up,’ Operations, where individuals would come in and erase (‘clean up,’) the civilian massacres that had taken place. More often than not this meant disposing of the dead in careless manners, without thought and dignity, as long as the evidence was erased. Despite the gruesome nature of the work, this would provide and provoke Hwan Sok-yong to ask himself philosophical questions, as well as compare his situation with that of his father and his generation, who were conscripted into the Imperial Japanese army in order to strengthen Japan’s national interest in the Asian political sphere; Sok-yong, would then question his own conscription into the Korean army which was to assist in strengthening America’s national interests and influence in the region. These experiences and questions, would be the influences for his most famous and first short story: “The Pagoda.” Since then, Hwan Sok-yong has been critical about the state of Korea calling it a “state of homelessness.” Sok-yong is also noted for his political activism in Korea, in which he championed democratic reforms, organized protests, wrote pamphlets and plays, as well as hosted a clandestine radio show. Now Hwang Sok-yong is considered one of the greatest prose writers of South Korea in which he documents the turbulent 20th century of the nation, being split in two, and used as chess piece by larger foreign powers in a game of international politics.
Xi Xi – Hong Kong (China) – Perhaps one of the most remarkable writers of Hong Kong, Xi Xi has been neglected in English language, to an almost criminal degree. The only acknowledgement this titan of Hong Kong literature has received from the English language speaking world was the Newman Prize for Chinese Literature in 2019, and yet remains under translated. Regardless, in her home city of Hong Kong, Xi Xi is one of the most renowned and riveting literary voices. In nominating Xi Xi for the Newman Prize for Chinese Literature, Dr. Tammy Lai-Ming Ho, commented on the often-overlooked state of Hong Kong’s literature. The city itself is more renowned for being the democratic sanctuary from the communist mainland (though that is now questionable in part thanks to the aggressive actions taken by mainland China in suppressing and control the otherwise semi-sovereign city), as well as a sector that revolved around commerce and finance. Literature and cultural significance are rarely mentioned. Dr. Lai-Ming Ho, notes that Hong Long literature is often neglected and placed in a secondary position, when up against its neighbors of China, Korea, and Japan. Yet the literary perspective and character of the city’s literature is potently unique, and nowhere else is this observed then in Xi Xi’s work. Dr. Lai-Ming Ho specifically comments on Xi Xi’s poetry, as it provides the vessel in which the city’s characters and narratives are distilled through. At once insignificant allegories, observations or anecdotes become commentaries on the citizens, stories, and cultural makeup of the city. A microcosm of stories and intertwined lives.  Perhaps it’s the understated perspective of Xi Xi that is endearing. By disregarding the grand statements, pompous proclamations, and pretentious parades, Xi Xi can give weight to the character of the city, through intimate portraits and observations which are not burdened by needless pageantry. Xi Xi’s literary output goes beyond poetry, her short stories and prose are more recognized and studied in Hong Kong. They vary in form and subject matter, from the realistic to the surreal or magical realistic in scope. Regardless of form or structure, Xi Xi remains enthralled and devoted to the city she has called home. Her literary work remains poignantly concerned with the challenges the city and its citizens face, as well as the dreams which weaves themselves through its neighbourhoods, apartment blocks, and narrow streets.
Ranjit Hoskote – India (English language) – India is a large and diverse nation on bot a geographical, regional, cultural, and linguistic level. Hindi is the commonly spoken language of the national, followed by English, and then Bengali. Despite being a large and diverse country, with the second largest population in the world, sadly Indian literature is either grossly under translated, or writers choose to specifically write in English to ensure they gain a wide and dispersed readership.  Despite writing in English, Ranjit Hoskote’s poetry does not carry the shadow of precedence that a lot of English language poetry pulls behind it, giving homage to the great poets of the past. No, Ranjit Hoskote’s poetry carves a sphere and place in poetry that is entirely his own and does not recognize or pay unnecessary tribute to those of the past. Hoskote’s work is intellectually informed; dynamic and technical with each poetic form utilized; textually appealing and succulent; all the while being aesthetically concerned with the cultural preoccupations, and the exploration of the poetic image at hand, to provide an overview and commentary on the human condition. His themes, images, and poetic preoccupations are diverse, eclectic, and extensive. When reviewing and referencing his poetry, Ranjit Hoskote wrote that his poetry cannot be summarized or reviewed in the context of the logical or regional lens, as the border between global and provincial concerns have blurred, and the bounds that maintained these two concerns as separate are now melding into more universal themes and concerns that touch and influence all human destines regardless of their location on the map. In his latest collection of poetry, “Hunchprose,” Ranjit Hoskote tackles the universal question of what defines and separates the notion of what makes us ‘human,’? How is our civilized concerns now sweeping our barbaric past to the back corners of our history, where they are to be neglected and shunned. Where does the notion of home exist within a world in crisis both climate, genocidal, pestilence and beleaguered with inequality. Ranjit Hoskote soars overhead and reviews these events, these slow moving extinctual movements as they weave themes into the existential consciousness of the human predicament today and becomes a urgent testament by the author of how these crisis will inevitably change the nature of human destiny.
Ý Nhi (Hoang Thi Ý Nhi) – Vietnam – Ý Nhi is one of the most important Post-War poets of her generation. Nhi’s poetry style is noted for its grace, gentleness, and subtlety. Her subject is always humane, though tinged with the inclinations of tragedy. Her poetic format is regarded for its modernist form, detailing the emotions of the Vietnam War, and its last effects on the Vietnam as well as the populace specifically women. During the Vietnam War, Ý Nhi worked as journalist, where she recounted and reported the horrors and devastation the war caused, as it ripped through the country. It is therefore no surprise that the war has been a major influence on her literary output and work, which carries a gentle poignant sadness throughout her collections as it depicts the great loss of the times from a female perspective, be it: lover, husband, son, child or friend. Her work moves beyond just wartime literature classification—though it carries the pit of bitterness in itself—there is always gentle grace and philosophical wisdom, as she works historical themes and events in the grander narrative and consciousness of society and culture. Over the past years, Ý Nhi’s reputation and work has begun to find readership beyond the borders of Asia, with her poetry being translated into French, Russian, German and Spanish, as well as a few poems have been showcased in poetry anthologies in English. In two-thousand and fifteen, Ý Nhi became the first Vietnamese poet to receive the Cikada Prize, whereby her work is expected to gain even further international recognition in Swedish as well.
Hiromi Itō – Japan – Japanese poetry is not as well-regarded as other cultural and literary exports from the island nation (such as Haruki Murakami and video games). Regardless, Japanese poets remain active in their cultural spheres of influence. One of the most important poets of the late 20th Century and contemporary Japanese poetry is, Hiromi Itō. In a similar fashion as (South) Korean poets, Kim Hyesoon and Moon Chung-hee; Hiromi Itō is often regarded as one of those unique, revolutionary, and famous feminist poetic perspectives in the Japanese literary canon. Despite the feminist perspective forced upon her, and her early poetic predilections were aimed at the relationship between the sexes, motherhood, womanhood, and child-rearing; her work continually evolved, adapted, and changed its skin like that of a chameleon, never fixating or focusing too long on a topic. Her literary perspective and output have ranged from poetry, to essays, to criticism; but also taken into consideration Native American oral traditions of storytelling; shamanistic and holistic poetry; as well as the lifecycle and plants. There is no discipline—be it cultural, social, literary, or scientific—that Hiromi Itō does not find endlessly interesting and inspiring, while also not critically analyzing and studying. For example, in her early career she was a formulative figure in feminist literary criticism in Japanese. Now she has become an instrumental figure in literary ecocriticism. Despite the varied interests of her literary output and career, the qualities of her literary style remain predominate throughout: that same wandering, longing, transitional quality, continually seeking the interconnectedness of cultures, people, and history. 
Bei Dao – China – Bei Dao is often cited as one of the most prominent proprietors and poets of the Misty Poet Generation of contemporary Chinese poetry. The Misty Poets of contemporary Chinese poetry are a dissident and reactionary poetic school of writers, who promoted democratic visions and ideals through their poetic works. Their works were noted for employing obscure imagery and poetic techniques to both evade censorship, as well as to force the reading populace to contemplate and think about the poetry they were reading. The Misty Poets became the de-facto literary enemies of the Cultural Revolution, and the Communist Party of China. The goal of encouraging the reading populace to think becomes a dangerous activity in authoritarian institutions. If the populace thinks, they will then question; if they question, they will begin to question the reality, they will then question why are subject to the needless suffering of the ruling elite, which inevitably leads to the downfall of authoritarian figures, institutions, and governments. A: thinking, questioning and contemplating population, becomes an uncontrollable one. Bei Dao has inevitably been disciplined for his poetic dissidence. He has been sent to re-education camps and forced labour camps in order to understand the back-breaking ideals of communism. Yet, undeterred the author continued to refine and secretly publish his works, even in the harsh conditions of his confinement and education. He participated in the first Tiananmen Square protests, before being forced into exile, and banned from re-entering the country. In exile, Bei Dao had the liberty of publishing his poetry, but retained his hazy language and obscure symbolism to provoke and inspire. China now on a global stage, is showcasing its aggressive and almost impudent might. Protests in Hong Kong have received worldwide attention, alongside economic wars between other nations. Awarding, Bei Dao, would be considered a concise and political message, in complete contrast to the earlier (mistake) of Mo Yan. Despite the political atmosphere, Bei Dao’s poetry is noted for its peculiarity, especially in the use of language, as well as sociopolitical preoccupations. His poetry is forever aimed in an idealistic direction of the unwavering spirit of human resilience and stoicism, despite rampant corruption and oppression.
Yoko Tawada – Japan/Germany – When Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017, there was a bit of a discussion of whether he was an English writer or a Japanese writer. The debate petered out abruptly. It is a fair statement, to propose that Kazuo Ishiguro is quintessentially an English writer. His literary language: English; his characters: English (apart from his first two novels). Yet, his themes carry the intuitive watermark of Japanese sensibilities and characteristics, but that is where the Japanese aspect of his literary output and style conclude. They are merely aspects of heritage and cultural impressions through parental endowment. Yoko Tawada, by comparison resides on the farther end of the spectrum. She is by all accounts an exponent writer, working in two languages: her native Japanese and her adoptive German. Tawada works in both languages and is known for drafting her novels and stories in both languages, often creating two different manuscripts with two different voices, often employed in different literary forms. Longer works (such as novels and plays) are written in Japanese, while shorter works (short stories and essays) are drafted in German. The duality of language, and the contrary perspectives created by two different linguistic skins, has influenced Tawada’s use of language as well. She has expressed language as unnatural, and more artificial to the point of magical. This sense of bewilderment is often seen within her use of neologisms and wordplay within her works to provide a linguistic portrait of the everyday through the perspective of how we discuss it, communicate it and describe it within the confines of words. Reality in this sense does not influence language. Language on the contrary frames and provides the necessary infrastructure to understand and interact with reality. Beyond language and the peculiar technicalities of language and its relation to understanding perceptions of reality; borders and boundaries and their crossings, is another theme of Yoko Tawada’s work. Borders are not just physical, geographical, ideological, cultural, or linguistic in her work; they are also philosophical and metaphysical: exploring the difference between waking life and dreams, animals and humans, thoughts and emotions, and other abstract phenomena. Language may provide context, but in narratives, Tawada employees postmodern literary techniques and magical realism to explore these otherwise strange notions of our differentiating and dissenting perspectives on a dichotomous plane of contrary opposites. Yoko Tawada, is for all intents and purposes a cosmopolitan and worldly author, eschewing geographical boundaries and language barriers to create both a career and literary oeuvre to reflect the mercurial state of a world and its linguistic shadow theatre.  Unlike, Haruki Murakami, Yoko Tawada does not eschew her Japanese heritage or first language. She employees and embraces these notions fully. She also embraces and employees her adoptive language of German, as an equally unique partner in her literary output and career. In this she exists in a unique no-man’s land, based around a dual perspective of two different languages and cultures, and endearingly belonging to both, while Murakami exists continually as an outsider, with self-righteous indignation.
Amitav Ghosh – India (English Language) – One of the most important English language writers heralding from the Indo-Subcontinent, Amitav Ghosh’s novels are critically acclaimed, praised, and beloved by readers. AN epicist in scale and scope, Ghosh’s work is known for tracing and surveying the rich and colourfully spiced history of the Indo-Subcontinent. Amitav Ghosh’s “Ibis Trilogy,” recounts the India under colonial rule of India, including the Opium Trade of the East India Tracing Company, between India and China; the trafficking of ‘Coolies,’ (poor labourers) from India to Mauritius. The novel traves how colonialism had ultimately charged the chartered course of the world; how it introduced new concepts and thoughts, but also sought out to ensure oppression was instituted for economic gain. The ‘Ibis Trilogy,’ is a epicist novel in scale and scope, with a marvelous and diverse cast of characters, complete with introductions and treatises written on such linguistic changes taking place at the time, in order to increase communication between parties. As a writer Amitav Ghosh is known for his technically well-crafted novels that have been thoroughly researched in order to provide historical context and understanding of the time. Ghosh is not just a writer of finely researched and tuned fiction, he is often a credible author with numerous collections of essays, treatises, and non-fiction work also published. “In An Antique Land,” is a work of ethnography and anthropological study, which continues to defy the usual literary categorization and taxonomies that have been developed to filter and understand how the work is to operate within the literary canon. Yet, “In An Antique Land,” continues to defy any immediate summarization, as it chameleonically camouflages itself with numerous genres, thoughts, and tropes, from narrative, travelogue, autobiography, and historical and ethnographic account. For his essays and his novels, Amitav Ghosh has been described as one of the most important thinkers of the current generation. Ghosh’s novels provide a well-researched account of historical events and colonial overview; while essays further explore these issues and explores theses further with an academic intention and scholarly attitude, which is neither pompous nor arrogant, buy thoughtful and once again thoroughly researched.
Li Ang – Taiwan – Li Ang is unapologetically referenced as a feminist writer; while those who wish to diminish or insult her Li Ang’s reputation often sneeringly refer to her as a woman writer, with the sole attempt to reduce her as not a writer of any professional or creative merit, but woman who merely scribbles the concerns of those of the same gender. The difference between an aggressive feminist critical perspective and ‘the woman,’ is immediately made clear when reviewing Li Ang. Li Ang’s literary work is noted for being candid, vicious, and strikingly clear as it details with exacting acuity describing the plight, oppression, and difficult situation faced by women in Taiwanese society. Ang’s work is transgressive, violent, and unapologetically critical of the masculine domination in Taiwanese society, which places Li Ang in the otherwise taboo territory. Despite the impertinent nature of her work, which vivisects and examines the gender politics in Taiwanese society, and the psychosexuality of her characters, she is internationally renowned and acclaimed, for breaking down oppressive social barriers, and displaying the putrid patriarchal system(s) which are still at work. Beyond examining gender politics, Li Ang has also written candidly on the state of Taiwanese politics, especially its continual assertion of independence. If literatures is meant to push the envelope, explore boundaries, and envision new and striking methods of communicating ideas, Li Ang dances on the knifes edge while juggling the meat cleavers which she happily turns towards the butchery of the social hierarchies and perspectives patriarchal societies. 
Yi Mun-yol – (South) Korea – Yi Mun-yol is one of (South) Korea’s leading contemporary writers and is considered the public’s favourite author to be noted for the prize (or so I am told). Mun-yol’s work consists mainly of novels and short stories, alongside social and political commentaries. Yi Mun-yol’s literary is generally considered to splitting in to two categories: the macro and the micro. The first category, the macro—or external—consists of an exploration via allegorical elements, of Korean society during the past century, fit with injustices, rampant ideologies, and how everyday lives are shaped and governed, by the ideological, and powerful external forces over seeing their lives, and attempts to create solutions for these dilemmas. The second category, the micro—or internal—comprises of work that is considered semi-autobiographical in scope, and is more concerned with introspective exploration, existential themes ranging from angst, identity crises and issues, and the eventual implosion of society, due to its own failures, but also the implosion of the individual. The theme of connection and abandonment make ready appearances in Yi Mun-yol’s work, due to the isolation of his youth, and the abandonment of his father, who defected to (North) Korea, during the Korean War. The defection and crime of the father had a profound impact on the Yi Mum-yol’s upbringing, as he was treated as a social pariah, by peers alike due to the actions of another. The notion and suffering of division can often be found as an exploration in both of his categories of work. The work of Yi Mum-yol is noted for being multilayered and complicated, due to the extensive use of linguistic wordplay, symbolism, and the characters relation to language. Translators of Yi Mun-yol’s work, have noted it is difficult to translate this unique use of homonym wordplay into other languages, as the same form does not exist. The two categories, plus his own personal background, make Yi Mum-yol a unique writer, as well as noteworthy. 
Can Xue – China – Can Xue is considered one of Chinas greatest contemporary writers. This acclaim is provided by Western media and readers, more than it is in China. In China, Can Xue is regarded as controversial and dissents away from the main literary circle of the country. Xue’s work is noted for being highly abstract, surreal, and pushes the limitations of the conventional notions of postmodernist literature. Her work is often understood as allegorical, especially in a political context. The author vehemently denies any political interpretation of her works. Instead, Can Xue, explains her work is more a literary experiment, which explores the author herself as a subject. This means as one pulls the layers of the abstract, unconventional, surreal and visceral imagery, narrative, and situations back, in the deepest pit of the narratives their lies within itself an aspect of Can Xue; meaning her work initially is constructed in an autobiographical thought, which is only encapsulated in the surrealistic unconscious realm of the subsequent narrative after the fact. Can Xue is not considered the most reasonable authors, nor the easiest read. Her work is riddled with contrary perspectives, paradox forms, eschewed logic, and as noted above an abstract and surreal contest, which has gathered both acclaim abroad and controversy at home. Being one of China’s most experimental writers may come from the fact Can Xue had little to no formal education, and she is able to use language and words in a more natural manner that is fluid and not confined with conventional thought or scholarly study, whereby she is able to explore the rhythm and cacophonic nature of language which both entices and disrupts readers. Her narratives are often free from the technical or formal lectureships provided via education, and her work is not interested in conforming to the political and ideological standards outlined by more accessible, promoted, and available authors. Can Xue’s writing on the contrary has been influenced by a natural interest for language and writing, as well as years of reading. Often regarded as the Chinese Kafka, Can Xue’s surreal narratives defy convention, formal narrative, and literary structures, and unsettle readers with a disquieting and resonating force of an imaginative power which is strictly her own. If the Swedish Academy is looking for an unconventional and unyielding writer who is devoted with undeniable lunacy and originality, then Can Xue is that writer.
Shuntaro Tanikawa – Japan – One of the most revolutionary Post-War Japanese poets, Shuntaro Tanikawa rejected the themes of melancholy, death, despair, pain, dishonour, and ruin of Japanese poetry lamenting and elegizing its defeat of Second World War. Tanikawa purged the iron of the blood-soaked literature; removed the bullets lodged in the stanzas; did away with the wasted fervor of war time propaganda; and washed away the bitterness and disdain of defeat; and instead fixaed on the future that lay ahead for the Japanese people and society. These otherwise progressive, hopeful, and optimistic ideals began to change the literary direction of Japanese poetry (which is why, Tanikawa was credited as being the Grandfather of Contemporary Japanese Poetry). The radiation burns, the sacrifice, the proud history are all to be remembered and recognized appropriately but not showered in excessive adulation. The preoccupation with moving carving out a brighter future, rather than mourning what was defeated, lost, and now buried, allowed readers to flock to Shuntaro Tanikawa who were eager to dream and work towards better days, and leave the despairing drudgery behind. Since his debut: “Alone in Two Billion Light Years,” Tanikawa, has published over sixty volumes of poetry and translations. His translations include “The Peanuts,” and “Mother Goose Rhymes,” into Japanese. Beyond his translation, Shuntaro Tanikawa has also been an active promoting and supporting Japanese poets into translations of other languages in order to help them transition into new linguistic frontiers, and to find new readers in different languages and cultural backgrounds. Shuntaro Tanikawa would be a deserving Nobel Laureate for the progressive and broad perspective of his poetry, which spoke to the Japanese spirit of resilience, but also for his willingness to promote cross cultural exchanges of different people from different societies and countries, all in the name of the undying collaborative spirit of what it means to be human.
Moon Chung-hee – (South) Korea – Is considered by many as one of the most important Postwar Poets. Which is a unique assessment as Moon Chung-hee’s poetry is not concerned with the bloodshed, destruction, and carnage of war, and the suffering that ripples and radiates from that epicenter, which then leads to the distinction that Moon Chung-hee is named the most important Female Postwar Poet. This sadly denotes the inclination and institutions that a poet’s gender is a defining feature of how their work is to be analyzed and viewed within the larger canon. Sadly, this immediately recalls the notion that Moon Chung-hee is expected to write about domestic and cottage like poems, riddled with love and heart break, commentary on family life and service to the husband, among other traditionally defined feminine preoccupations. Femininity and female gender are a preoccupation within Moon Chung-hee’s work, it is neither denied, neglected, or concealed, femininity and a woman’s perspective are inevitably going to be influencing viewpoints and informed within her work; yet it is not forcefully applied or installed under the masculine perspective. For Moon Chung-hee femininity is not fragile, frail, or delicate in nature. Rather, it is a paradox of turmoil and bliss. It is the spirit of fire and quiet rebellion. It is resilient and powerful but treated as sensitive and vulnerable. In the works of Moon Chung-hee the feminine is not degraded or patronized by the forms of poetry that demeans itself by discussing the usual tropes of love, longing, and heartache, these kitschy and cliché perspectives are readily abandoned in favour of more astute and crystalline observations, reflected in a straightforward poetic style. The poetry of Moon Chung-hee dances in the dual nature of itself like fire, in one notion it heats the home, cooks and brings comforting warmth, while in the next it burns the home down and spreads destruction without prejudice, consuming everything in its path. The poetry composed by Moon Chung-hee reviews the female experience as existential, complicated, revolutionary, and rebellious, a vibrant spectrum of human experiences, complete with commentary on social, political, and cultural topics and issues. Her poetry is not denoted or disregarded as trivial, light, or cheap, but striking in its vigor that has provided a new poetic perspective of the human experience from the female perspective. A perspective that is fearless and fiery as it changes the social and gender issues of the country and its poetic prejudices against itself.
Wang Xiaoni – China – Often classified as a Misty Poet alongside Bei Dao, Duo Duo, and Yang Lian; Wang Xiaoni lacks the political motivations and convictions found in the works of the Misty Poets, whose obscure poetry sought to provoke and inspire democratic reforms, principles, and social movements through literature. Instead Xiaoni has eschewed political stances in favour of a distinct and personal poetic form and style which emphasizes emotional resonance, and a preoccupation with the personal and private human psyche and soul. Her poetry is renowned for its striking style that Wang Xiaoni has crafted for herself, which details the feelings (both physical sensations and emotional response) to the landscape, scenes, and messages found in the everyday. Early in her literary career, Wang Xiaoni clarified immediately her interest was in the personal and its relation to the existence of others, as well as this relationship with the landscape and society as a whole, entirely deprived of the adulterating influence of politics and ideological messages. Her poetic style is noted for its intense detailed effort to capture the internal and introspective meaning, before being shaped into a musical and graceful composition. The emotional impact takes precedence over stylistic and compositional concerns. She avoids linguistic experimentation and is skeptical of writing poetry merely to showcase the peculiarities of language or the cunning nature of a writer willing to display their own clever aptitudes. Likewise, she shuns mystical tropes and themes, which she views with skepticism, all in favour of displaying and discussing with great accuracy the human spirit, shadow, soul—the psyche of the individual—fit with its physical sensations and emotional resonances in the constrained form of poetry.
Ko Un – (South) Korea – There can be no denying that for years (South) Korea has lobbied as best they can and presented a case explaining why their literature and their writers are indeed deserving of a Nobel Prize for Literature. The nation has stabilized their economy, rebranded itself as democratic and capitalist in nature, and has begun to showcase its cultural exports through film (the award-winning film “Parasite,”) music (the whole K-Pop phenomena and BTS) and the recent hosting of the Winter Olympics in 2018 have all worked to showcase (South) Korea as a player on the world stage. A Nobel Prize for Literature to one of their writers, could be utilized to showcase further recognition of Korean literature and culture within the region. Ko Un was considered for years and perhaps even decades the only (South) Korean writer who had a chance of receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature. Ko Un’s literary oeuvre is an encompassing and diverse poetic pallet which range from Zen poems to imagistic reflections, personal epiphanies, historical epics, as well as character sketches such as his 30 volume series of poems titled: “Ten Thousand Lives,” where the poet immortalizes the individuals he has met throughout his life. Despite the berth and wide range of Ko Un’s career his life has been upended by personal difficulties and political situations. Ko Un was repeatedly imprisoned by the (South) Korean dictatorship for his political protests and democratic advocacy. During the Korean War, he was employed as a gravedigger before a brief stint as a Buddhist monk. It was not until the 80’s that Ko Un’s literary work had begun to gain recognition and obtain traction within literary circles, and his varied and diverse bibliography, was bound to gain further national and international acclaim. Ko Un is revered as a respected and recognized poet of great talent and humanistic thought. Though over the years his cultural and translation monopoly of translated Korean literature into other languages has been usurped by other writers and the (South) Korean governments attempts at getting its writers and their literary work translated and published in other languages, which has resulted in such breakout writers such as Han Kang and Bae Suah gaining a foothold in the English language. Further issue has been raised when in 2018, a poet by the name of Choi Young-mi wrote a poem describing a poet meeting the same features of Ko Un sexually assaulting a young woman. Following the accusations of this poem several young female writers shared allegations and accusations of Ko Un participating in sexual misconduct against young woman, often coercing them into sex. Subsequently Ko Un’s poems were removed from school textbooks, and his lawsuit against Choi Young-mi was dismissed. After recuperating from their own sexual assault scandal, it will be questionable whether or not the Swedish Academy will wish to award a writer who currently faces accusations and allegations being aimed towards them.
Australia & Oceania –
Gerald Murnane – Australia – Gerald Murnane’s name is spoken in hushed whispers, among many. He’s a dark horse and a cult figure, known for his sparse bibliography, his eccentric qualities, and his uncompromising works. Murnane is often described as the quintessential Australian writer, as he has never left the country, and rarely explores his own, which is quite contrary to many Australian concepts, as they are known as cosmopolitan travelers, before returning home to settle down. Not Murnane, he’s a homebody, who has found his place on the earth, and quietly rests there. When his work has been released, its quietly reviewed, praised vehemently, but the praise does not fly far—despite often referring to the author and his work as genius and masterpieces. His work is noted for being paradoxical and contrary, nonchalantly refusing to fit into any concrete idea of what it should be or what it represents. For example, on one hand, Gerald Murnane’s work is described as plain, matter of fact, on the borders of being frosty in spirit, before the reverse is annunciated; that Murnane’s work is intricately lyrical to the point it was moving, in its continual distortion of personal realities, based on a individual’s sight, rather than the preconceived notions of reality. His work is often described as fitting into the notion of realism at one point, then paddling back re-state the argument that it’s anti-realism, with many postmodernist tropes. The truth is: Gerald Murnane rejects literary tropes and fashions, and instead writes the most unique stories and short novels, in prose which shifts from extreme to extreme, in realistic but dreamlike prose, which always relies on the individual’s perceptions of the world. It is truly no wonder, why he is considered a cult favourite, a dark horse, and a genius on the borderlands of the conventional. With the Nobel Banquet now cancelled, and safe to presume al ceremonial activities, lectures, and other conventional events related to the Nobel Prize cancelled; it would be perfect for Gerald Murnane to receive the prize. After all he’s not much of a traveler.
Patricia Grace – New Zealand – Reconciliation of colonialism is becoming a more potent movement within the world, especially for postcolonial nations whose indigenous populations are demanding recognition, apologies, and reconciliatory action regarding the mistreatment, abuse, and otherwise cultural genocide which took place during colonial rule. This has been made explicatory clear in Canada as of late, as unmarked graves have been discovered at the sites of former residential schools filled with children. Patricia Grave is one of the most prominent voices at work in New Zealand literature, and who brought the Māori perspective to the literary stage. The advocacy of bringing new perspectives or more native perspectives to literature have an exemplary cause of Patricia Grace who early on recognized that when children read books that mirrored or reflected them or their circumstances and identity, they were often more engaged with the work, and saw themselves as not just sidestepped or uninteresting characters in someone else’s story, but worthy and memorable protagonists. Patricia Grace has been one of those exceptional writers who embodies both culture and values without maintaining or holding resentment or viciously pontificating against the former established institution. Instead, Grace writes with the sole intention of telling the stories, lives, and experiences from the Māori perspective, and highlights their culture and history. In 2008 Patricia Grace was nominated and won the Neustadt Prize, which only cements the importance and acknowledgement that Patricia Grace is a worldly author who brings a holistic approach to literature as it seeks to identity and include all cultures and peoples within the literary canon, while refuting any high-handed moral superiority attitude in its delivery.
South America & Latin America; with the Caribbean –
Tomás González – Columbia – There can be no denying that Columbian literature has been eclipsed and overshadowed by the late Gabriel García Márquez, who pushed South & Latin America to the forefront with magical realism, and suddenly the enter Western literary world is reviewing the southern continent under a glaring fascination of exoticism, complete with formal experimentation, and allegorical labyrinths of narratives. The post-boom writers have moved away from these forebearers, preferring less allegorical premises in which to meditate and contemplate their subjects. The post-boom writers and the more dissenting voices were openly critical of the Boom Generation for being elitist in their perspective, and pandering to the western tradition and readers, while neglecting the readership of their own countries. The new generation which found its most prominent voice in Roberto Bolaño moved away from the fantastical allegory of the previous generation and sought shape and craft narratives that the everyday reader would be able to understand, and characters they could empathize with. One of these post-boom writers is the Colombian writer Tomás González, who is only now just beginning to gain a foothold I the English language. One of Tomás González’s novels is the multifaceted psychological portrait: “The Storm,” which is a hallmark of the authors style, showcasing his ability encapsulate an entire history and world within a single microcosm of psychological processing that is not bound or confined by the rules of time or space. The novel recounts through twenty-six hours, the ordeal of a family, their personal histories, their trials and tribulations, their petty competitions, their slips into sanity. The novel echoes with the chorus of a Greek tragedy played out within the ethereal realm of the psychologically fractured and distressing. Tomás González is a writer of quiet masterpieces, of fiction that is both compelling and beautiful and is now beginning to be consumed and appreciated in the English language. There is no doubt that Tomás González has been one of the best kept literary secrets of the Southern Hemisphere. 
Elena Poniatowska – México – Elena Poniatowska is often lumped together with the greatest writers of the 20th Century of the Southern Hemisphere, with the likes of Nobel Laureates: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa and Octavio Paz, along with Carlos Fuentes, Sergio Pitol, and Fernando del Paso. Some of these writers were directly involved with the Latin American Boom (Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Carlos Fuentes) Elena Poniatowska would not be considered a subscriber or acolyte in the same fashion as Isabel Allende. No, Poniatowska is a journalist first with a strong streak in political, social, and cultural criticism. This continued interest in the disenfranchised of Mexican society, the otherwise poor, impoverished, uneducated or of limited social standing, are continually in her focus with righteous pen in hand. She is most famous for her reportage and collage non-fiction work: “Massacre in Mexico,” which recounts through reportage, testimony, and witnessed events the horrors that took place at Plaza de las Tres Culturas, where unarmed civilians demonstrated and protested the hosting of the 1968 Olympics being hosted in Mexico City. The demonstrators themselves wanted to call attention to the inequality and impoverishment of the city. The military inevitably opened fire killed an undetermined number of people. This became known as the Tlatelolco Massacre. There is always an ironic twist with advocates who voice their discontent and unleash criticism against the inequalities prevalent in society or seek to raise the position of the lower social classes, when in fact these advocates herald from exceptionally privileged backgrounds. Elena Poniatowska is no different. Poniatowska was born in Paris, France to a fortunate family. Her father was Prince Jean Joseph Evremond Sperry Poniatowski; thus, making Elena Poniatowska a princess, where she is often referred to as the ‘Rouge Princess,’ where she disregarded any notion of aristocratic behavior expected of her, concerning herself with the blight and issues of the common people. Poniatowska’s initial career in journalism was not noted remarkable, or even remotely concerned with the issues she viewed with strength and vigor. No instead, Elena Poniatowska was to oversee and write the lifestyle and society column, which she did with satire and facetious disingenuity.  Then came “Massacre in Mexico,” and Elena Poniatowska was finally taken seriously as both a journalist and commentator on sociopolitical affairs. It is in this regard that one can assess that Elena Poniatowska is not a ‘purely,’ literary writer, one who does not explicitly dedicate themselves to either poetry or prose, and just makes their living from journalism. No, Poniatowska maintained an otherwise pragmatic perspective when it came to writing, believing that all written work must have a purpose, or provide insight into palpable affairs. This apparently made the late Carlos Fuentes comment: “Look at poor little Poni! There she goes in her beat-up VW Bug, on her way to interview the head of the slaughterhouse.” – Despite not being a strictly literary writer, Elena Poniatowska received the Cervantes Prize in 2013, and is considered an important writer within the Spanish language, whose social and political commentary and criticism is respected. I do wonder her chances of receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature, after Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2015, who is regarded as a journalist and historian, who has traced the social and political destinies of the Soviet and Post-Soviet individual. Regardless, Elena Poniatowska’s commitment to reporting, recording, documenting, and disseminating the events, attitudes, perspectives, and atrocities that take place around her are admirable, as they become the accounts and chronicles for future generations. They will provide that palpable perspective that statistical evidence cannot convey.
Raúl Zurita – Chile – Chilean poetry is a highbrow form, which is appreciated and respected by the reading public of Chile. Great Chilean poets include Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda, and Nicanor Parra are always considered the finest stock, along with Raúl Zurita, who remains the nations greatest poetic voice. Raúl Zurita’s early poetic influences were unfortunately shaped by political context. At the age of 22 and during the early onslaught of Pinochet’s gaining control, Zurita was detained among thousands of others, where he was tortured. This proved to a traumatizing experience for the poet, who for years afterwards would be haunted by the situation, as it inflected every aspect of his life, and would be the basis of his monumental poetic trilogy which protested and defied the dictatorship. The poetry of Raúl Zurita is pulling oneself out of the abyss; struggling from the depths of madness to reclaim language, speech, to communicate once again with someone, anyone about the situation at hand, and so was his debut poetry collection: “Purgatory,” a reclaiming of language in a world gone mad. The subsequent collections of Zurita’s poetry: “Anteparadise,” and “La Vida nueva,” complete his trilogy, which became a cacophonous collage of competing and inconsequential forms that at first glance appear to have no shared meaning or theme, but slowly the images, the concerns, the situations, and the poems align in constellation like format, creating through individual stars a poetic collage that provides not only an overview of the dictatorship of Pinochet’s dictatorship, but also the unyielding resistance, life, and love that existed within such terrible times. Regardless of the terrors, horrors, and atrocities taking place during the dictatorship Zurita’s poetry sought to speak, give voice, and resound language in a vibrant kaleidoscope of speech to provide a reflection of life lived in a dichotomous and cacophonous chorus of joy and suffering. After the fall of Pinochet’s dictatorship, Raúl Zurita has continued to publish further poetry, which have become world renowned, not just for their experimentation and characteristically unique perspective that is Zurita, one that is plural and universal, while maintaining the reminder that it channels through the singular mind, hand, and pen that is the poet.
Nancy Morejón – Cuba – Often called one of the most prominent poets of Post-Revolution Cuba, and the most translated female poet from Cuba, certainly does not hurt Nancy Morejón’s reputation on the global literary stage. Morejón is considered the first professional Cuban writer with African ancestry. Her poetry focuses on issues of ethnicity, gender; the individuals relation to history; politics, and the Afro-Cuban identity; which are all displayed in her colourful and vibrant poetic compositions that blend Spanish and African cultural traditions, and ponder questions of these two unique traditions, and what it means to be a product of both. Though Nancy Morejón celebrates and writes of ‘blackness,’ in all its beauty, experiences, and rich cultural traditions, there is a resistant refusal to subscribe struggle or adversity within a singular parameter. Ethnicity, history, and politics are themes within Morejón’s poetry and will became entangled with each other, they take on intimate notions such as family situations or scenes, or ancestral explorations of the past. This can be observed as one explores the notion of slavery, its relation to the present, and the effects on the individual as they relate to society, their family, and history. Nancy Morejón’s poetry is noted for its lyricism, slight mystical tones, erotic fasciation’s, and intimate spiritual nature. As a poet, Nancy Morejón views poetry as a form of social communication and eschews all attempts at hermeticism or closed off language preferences. The goal remains the same, to communicate beyond geography, language, and gender with others, on an experience, a thought, an emotion, a moment, all expressed through the unique narratives of her poetry.
Rodrigo Rey Rosa – Guatemala – Rodrigo Rey Rosa – Guatemala – Rodrigo Rey Rosa is a profoundly humanistic author, whose styles of writing can be described as both diverse and digressive. Rosa can be both fluid and fragmentary; eschewing national identity in favour of a more global reach; coupled with a mosaic prose writing that documents and exemplifies his vagabond and transitionary existence. His travels have taken him throughout Central America and Mexico, as well as sojourns in North Africa—specifically Morocco, where the tutelage of friend and mentor, Paul Bowles, proved to be a major influence on his writing, intercepted with his own heritage, experiences, and preoccupations. His most recent translated work into English “Human Matter,” has been described as frustratingly fragmented, defying any traditional notion of proper classification within the literary scope. It has been described as a collection of notebooks, investigations, and a recorded exploration of humanity, memory, integrity, and cruelty. It’s too fictious to be defined as non-fiction; yet, to discursive for many to call it a novel. All the same, “Human Matter,” is defined and marketed as a novel. It’s been praised as a treatise exemplifying human dignity, integrity, as well as collective identity, but in the family sequence, but also on a national level. Throughout his erudite and colourful career, Rodrigo Rey Rosa gained praise, support, and acknowledgement from others. The late Roberto Bolaño praised Rodrigo Rey Rosa as being one of the best writers of his generation. In fashion similar Bolaño, and other post-Boom writers, Rodrigo Rey Rosa employees more postmodernist techniques and perspectives in his literary output. His work carries the influence of myth and folktales of Guatemala but takes a more global attitude in preoccupation. Unlike the predecessors of the Latin American Boom Generation, Rodrigo Rey Rosa’s concern is not necessarily limited to the mystical, exotic, and magical lands of South and Central America, but instead pushes the otherwise southern land to the forefront of the global literary stage, providing a unique dialogue not hindered by national identity or provincial concerns.
Adélia Prado – Brazil – Adélia Prado – Brazil – Adélia Prado is one of Brazils most renowned, and beloved contemporary poets. Her poetry was first discovered when she was on the cusp of middle age, when she decided to relinquish a few poems to a poet, essayist, and scholar, who in turn passed these poems on to the Brazilian modernist master, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, who quickly heaped praise on this otherwise startling and unknown voice, writing from the interstate of Brazil, away from the high urban, cultural, and cosmopolitan centres of the time. Adélia Prado’s poetry was noted immediately, as being independent, unique and striking, as it never fell into the fashionable preoccupations of the time. Rather, Prado’s poetic perspective was one of the everyday: the physical (carnal and erotic), as well as the spiritual and religious, and that of the perspective of being a woman. Adelia Prado is a devote practicing catholic, which carries the aris of solemn conservative stiffness, with little enjoyment, and an exacting sense of self-flagellation in order to bring on sufficient suffering for penance and repentance in order to gain a more intimate and masochistic relationship with a holier being; Prado’s poetry eschews this image abruptly, by displaying erotic details that become both shock and contrary to faith. She defends this practice by stating the poetry is not the eroticism of the flesh, but the intimacy of soul. Her themes move beyond just the theological eroticism of spiritual and soulfulness, as it also recounts the details of the lives of women of Brazil, their concerns and their preoccupations, which through her poetry is never just ordinary. According to the poet, it is the workings of the devil, which provides the illusion that the everyday is somehow deprived of any extraordinary details, or a sense of the bewilderment, as she relentlessly persists there is poetic enjoyment and beauty within the world of the everyday, and its ubiquitous charm. It is in the simple acts of life, and those brief moments of reflection that the metaphysical, divine, and transcendental reality is revealed. Seven years ago, Adélia Prado was the recipient of the Griffin Lifetime Recognition Award, an hour she shares with poets:  Adam Zagajewski, Ana Blandiana, and the late (Nobel Laureate) Derek Walcott, which only cements the international recognition, and appeal that Adélia Prado is in possession of.
Carmen Boullosa – Mexico – Boullosa is one of Mexico’s leading contemporary writers, who has worked in a variety of different literary formats, which includes novels, short stories, poetry, plays, as well as a foray into screenwriting. Arguably, Boullosa is most famous for her novels, which are consciously written in a different format, style, and thematic form then the others. This conscious desire to write each new novel in a new format, style, and thematic occupations, is the hallmark Carmen Boullosa’s literary personality, and overarching literary style. Her novels vary between historical fiction and magical realism. Her satirical trilogy of plays uses similar devices as they deploy historical settings and a inclination for the fantastic, to satirize the traditional perspective gender norms, and woman’s oppression in the patriarchal society framework. Feminist issues within the Latin American context, which has made her one of the leading female voices of contemporary Mexican Literature, who has been praised by the late Carlos Fuentes, and Roberto Bolaño.
Cesar Aira – Argentina – Cesar Aira is a prolific and industrious writer, producing two to four novellas a year. Aira is known for being a practitioner of a unique writing style and technique, which he refers to as: ‘Flight Forward,’ where he bypasses edits and revisions, and begins to change the direction of his novella, when he views the work is headed towards a literary or stylistic traps or dangers. This ‘flight forward,’ technique has often be compared to theatrical improvisation, where the writes improvises or changes style or literary genre to best serve the work. Aira’s often avant-garde perspective has gathered praise and criticism. On one hand critics applauded the writer’s unique blend of contrary and shifting perspectives to offer a truly unusual viewpoint of the world, with surreal and humorous manners. On the other hand, detractors have criticized this style as being nothing more than postmodernist gimmick or party trick which the author parades as a literary aesthetic but is nothing more than a continual rehash of the same old joke, where he nonchalantly wears the hat of Dadaism; the coat of surrealism; the tie of fantastic; and the shoes of quasi-nonsensical. Criticism often points at the authors reliance on his style, often removes attention from his depth and themes, which many argue are severely underdeveloped in favour of his stylistic forays. Regardless of either criticism or praise, Cesar Airia is perhaps one of the most important literary writers in the Spanish language; one that has moved from the Latin Boom Generation, and facilitated a multitude of genres, perspectives, and themes with every novella written, produced, and published.
Circe Maia – Uruguay – Circe Maia is a literary national treasure of Uruguay; despite living through the political upheavals which have gripped the country. These same political upheavals have infiltrated her home, and often came close to destroying her personal life. Her husband was arrested for his political involvements, and Circe Maia was only spared a similar fate, simply because she was pregnant with her youngest daughter at the time. The dictatorship of Uruguay and personal tragedies had once silenced Maia as a poet—but not out of grief or fear, but more out of protest. Now, she is a renowned and respected contemporary poet. Her poetry is noted for being direct and somber. She refuses to slip into the self-absorbed poetic monologue or fill the airs of a narcissistic poet. Circe Maia writes with clear conviction, to write her poetry in a way in which as a poet and as a reader, there is a conversation in which there is a mutual unearthing of what it means to be human and to live, all become thoughts and questions about the human condition and its universal and personal destiny. Circe Maia has battled against her poetry becoming self-contained and hermetic; rather her poetry is lively, direct, approachable and conversational in form and function, it is the poetry of daily life, the poetry heard and seen through the comment mundane events, reflected in objects and events; it is a poetry of a life lived and experienced, rather than one theorized and mythologized.
Luisa Valenzuela – Argentina – Heralding from a literary family and background, it comes as no surprise that Luisa Valenzuela became a writer. Throughout her childhood home, writers frequently visited her family; her mother, Luisa Mercedes Levinson hosted many social and literary gatherings attended by the Argentinean literati, including Jorge Luis Borges, who composed a story with Levinson. Initially interested in the natural sciences, Valenzuela turned towards writing in her late adolescences, and embarked on a literary and journalistic career from there. Valenzuela’s literary career and bibliography spans over thirty published works, in a multiple of different forms including: novels, short stories, flash fiction, and essays, which coincide with her journalistic work as well, and teaching and lecturing engagements. Despite her privileged background, Luisa Valenzuela was not immune to the political turmoil and social upheaval of Argentina during the seventies; as the military junta came into place, intellectuals, and writers were feared as enemies of political power and certainty and were quickly censored and removed from their positions into others, in order to ensure they could not touch or engage with others and provoke freedom of thought, or political revolution. Luisa Valenzuela often tackled themes of political oppression, and women’s oppression at the hands of authoritarian governments. Valenzuela’s use of language is also a remarked as being highly refined, along with her engagements in political and social interests. Language becomes malleable form for the author, subjected to her authority and providing new perspective, description, and recollection of events and themes with ease.  Despite writing and publishing around the same time as Latin American Boom writers, such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Carlos Fuentes; Luisa Valenzuela, is described as one of the earliest and most profound post-Boom writers. Regardless, she is a world-renowned writer, who has been instrumental in paving the way for other writers of the Southern Continent to have their voices heard and appreciated on the literary stage.
Frankétienne – Hati – Frankétienne has been regarded as Hati’s: Father of Letters—a wizened man of literature, wordplay, and humanistic intellectual pursuits. For this, he has often been speculated and tipped as a winner for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Frankétienne’s literary work is known for its unusual use of language in the form of neologisms; but also, for his ill-mannered depictions of vulgar sexual encounters, and brutal violence, which are common occurrences in Haiti even today. Even though Papa Doc and Baby Doc are dead, there has been little progress or change in Haiti’s political system or central control of power within the country. Haiti has been described as an unfortunate orphan of fate and change; a politically mismanaged wretch; and a depressingly third world country, which is better left ignored then acknowledged. For Frankétienne, this all must be brutally depicted, voiced, and protested. Frankétienne’s work is noted for its mystical atmosphere, and it’s almost voodoo folkloric roots. If Wole Soyinka was a writer influenced by the Yoruba people’s myths and folklores, in which he found a way to embody in his literary identity; Frankétienne’s violent and mystical heritage (found in his paintings, poetry and prose) stems from the Hattian voodoo traditions of Haiti and its alluringly dark intrigue, which enchants the Caribbean in warmth and ecstasy. 
Ana María Shua – Argentina – The Southern Continent is an extraordinary continent filled with literary talent, which is only now beginning appreciated across the globe. For decades though, the South and Latin American literary culture was dominated by what was known as the Latin American Boom Generation. There were of course other writers who wrote independently from the Boom Generation, they’re risked being overlooked for not participating in the otherwise more dominate culture or literary group. Ana María Shua (much like Luisa Valenzuela) worked independently from the Boom Generation. In a similar fashion as Valenzuela, during the Argentinean military junta, Shua was forced into exile; there in France, she worked as a journalist. After the dictatorship fell, Ana Maria Shua returned to Argentina that her literary career began to take hold and take off, when she published her first novel. Since then, Ana Maria SHua has published over eighty books in a variety of forms including, novels, short stories, flash, fiction, poetry, drama, essays and children’s literature, while also being anthologist of Jewish folklore and writing books of humour. The micro story (flash fiction) is what Anna Maria Shua is most known for, often called the ‘Queen of the Microstory,’ both in South America and in Europe.
Cristina Peri Rossi – Uruguay –Throughout this section of this Nobel Prize for Literature Speculation List, the Latin American Boom is referenced with a few writers, Cristina Peri Rossi will be the last writer to have a reference attached to the previous Boom authors. Where others are merely associated as being post-Boom or being admired or praised by members of the Boom Generation, Cristina Peri Rossi, appears to be the only one listed who had a partial association with them. Arguably Cristina Peri Rossi, is also the only woman writer who was associated with the Boom Generation as well. Throughout her association, she was actively involved in championing the causes of the generation during the 60’s and 70’s, as well as forced into exile twice; she also was a dear friend of the late Julio Cortazar. Despite her relation to these writers, she was only partially associated, mainly due to her own desire to maintain a distance from the formalities of being categorized as one of them. Rossi is an independent writer, who sought to retain that independence free from literary associations; while others may argue that her gender played a key role in the lack of formal induction. Regardless, the Uruguayan writer is one of the most accomplished, beloved, and renowned writers of South American literature. Her work is comprised of both novels, short stories, poems, as well as essays, journalism, and political commentary. Throughout her bibliography, Cristina Peri Rossi has maintained common themes throughout her work, which include political and social injustices; love and passion; sexuality, feminism, and issues relating to gender.
In the End: Closing Thoughts –
There you have it Gentle Reader, my Nobel Speculation List for 2021.
Following are some statistics and data of this year’s list:
94 writers are included on this year’s speculation list.
40 writers are female.
54 writers are male.
Of these 94 writers, 16 are new (so yes, the list does change). These new writers are separated by the following geographical areas:
North Africa, Central Asia, & the Middle East – 4
Europe – 6
Australia & Oceania – 1
Asia & the Indo-Subcontinent – 3
South America & Latin America, with the Caribbean – 2
I make it a specific goal and unapologetic bias to not include writers from English speaking nations, or whose literary language is English. In the past, to main diversity I included one writer from Australia, the usual dark horse, Gerald Murnane. This year, however, I decided to include a writer from New Zealand. Adcock’s poetry is approachable and conversational in tone, and whose topics take account of daily activities, observations, and examinations of the human condition through these events, complete with a sly sense of humor that is both dry and wry in their ironic touches. Despite reading a couple of Fleur Adcock’s poems, and further research into the poet, showed that Fleur Adcock was practically genteel and anglicized. She had lived in the United Kingdom since the 60’s – escaping a sadistic marriage with a beast of a man Barry Crump, whose bushwhacking novels were all the rage in New Zealand – where the poet has written and translated and has found the United Kingdom to be more like home then her native New Zealand. Despite Fleur Adcock not making onto this year’s lists, she’s still a marvelous poet and I am glad to have had the opportunity to have treated myself to the poems that I was able to read.
In lieu of Fleur Adcock, I read about the Māori writer Patricia Grace. Recently indigenous populations of former colonized countries have achieved traction in their demands for reconciliations and acknowledgement of the crimes penetrated against them during colonial rule. A reclamation of culture, starve off linguistic extinction, and ensure the cultural endowment of customs and traditions. Patricia Grace has won numerous literary words, the most famous being the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 2008. Her literary oeuvre is important for the preservation of the Māori culture in a literary sphere and propagating the Māori experience onto a more global stage. Though these otherwise topical or externally political motived concerns should not detract away from Patricia Grace’s literary work which transcends the otherwise dampening political perspectives.
Beyond Gerald Murnane and Patricia Grace writing in English, two other writers also write in English have been included on this list: Ranjit Hoskote and Amitav Ghosh. The Indian sub-continent has a diversity of linguistic languages that vary from region to region. The English language is still a predominate language within the country along with Hindi. Not surprisingly, English language Indian writers will have greater representation on the global literary stage. This includes of course, Amitav Ghosh who has been warmly received within the English language; while Ranjit Hoskote is an accomplished poet, whose themes move beyond paltry concerns of linguistic or regional preoccupations. Instead, Ranjit Hoskote remains immediately concerned with universal crises and problems that will impact all human beings. Of course, beyond being concerned with the destiny and fate of society and humanity, Ranjit Hoskote is a remarkable poet in his own right, shifting between forms and styles with chameleonic grace. As for Amitav Ghosh there is no denying his work maintains a truly historically epic scope, provide a thorough dissection of the events which have shaped the world to its present state. Amitav Ghosh’s eye for historical accuracy and luxurious prose makes one of the finest writers currently at work in the English language, though relatively underappreciated overall, that is if the Booker Prize is considered the crowning achievement of English language literary appreciation. In the case of Ranjit Hoskote and Amitav Ghosh I overlooked my disregard of English language writers and included them as I do not believe these writers are featured often in other Nobel Speculation lists or discussions, and certainly have not appeared on any of the betting sites.
For now, though Gentle Reader, we can expect the Nobel Prize for Literature to be announced on October 7th, 2021. Here’s hoping this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature marks a stark contrast to the previous years and goes to an unknown writer. Currently it seems the Nobel Prize for Literature bounces back between the United States of America and Europe, with some detours to other literary cultures from time to time. This year it would be nice for the Nobel Prize for Literature to go to a unknown writer who is not named in the usual canon who is viewed as the possible winner. A complete surprise would be greatly appreciated. I truly believe that without the Nobel Prize for Literature, I would not have read Herta Müller or Patrick Modiano or JMG Le Clezio. Yet, after 2014 the Nobel Prize for Literature has remained relatively the same, awarding writers who have either be in speculative consideration for years, or settling on writers who appear to be mediocre or comprisable or in another infamous year, not a writer at all.  Though when Olga Tokarczuk won for 2018 (awarded in 2019), it was truly a heartwarming and pleasant award, though it was often eclipsed by the controversy surrounding Peter Handke, who in being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for 2019, the Swedish Academy proved or reaffirmed that they are either tone deaf to criticism, or unapologetically maverick institution that is does not shy away from controversy, but openly welcomes it.
Until October 7th, Gentle Reader, when we learn who this year’s Nobel Laureate in Literature will be.