The Birdcage Archives

Wednesday 10 August 2022

Announcement: Nobel Prize in Literature 2022 Speculation List

Here are the quick stats for this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature speculation list:
Total Writers List: 100
Total listed writers by geographical area are as follows:
Africa – 12
North Africa & the Middle East – 13
Europe – 40
Asia & the Indo-Subcontinent – 20
Australia & Oceania – 2
South America & Latin America, with the Caribbean – 13
Of these listed writers 18 are new.
The new writers are attributed to each geographical area as follows:
Africa – 3
North Africa & the Middle East – 2
Europe – 9
Asia & the Indo-Subcontinent – 1
South America & Latin America, with the Caribbean – 3
For further data analysis of a break down of the listed writers:
65 Writers are Male
35 Writers are Female
—Last Year’s Review—
Last year’s Nobel Prize for Literature turned out to be a large surprise when the laureate was announced as the Tanzanian born United Kingdom based writer and postcolonial literary scholar:   Abdulrazak Gurnah, who the Swedish Academy praised with the citation:
“For his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.”
In the early hours of October 7th, 2021 – I can’t imagine anyone having much luck at deciphering exactly who had won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The current Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy Mats Malms I am sure is many things, which includes accomplished academic, respected critic, excellent administration; an engaging or lively speaker, sadly is not one of them. In his initial introduction (at least in English) Mats Malm referenced Zanzibar (an autonomous region within Tanzania) and proceeded to gently annunciate Abdulrazak Gurnah’s name and any other pertinent information, before deferring the remaining proceedings to Anders Olsson.
Afterwards, Mats Malm retreats to the backroom. In his place Anders Olsson holds court like a resigned geriatric power hungry regent, who unable and unwilling to unhook their claws from position of power, in turn seeks to reclaim as much agency and authority as possible to the position, in order to host the deliberations at their leisure. Honesty, since the Swedish Academy scandal and the departure of the late Sara Danius as the Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, there is a dreadful sense there has been a shift in the academy’s internal workings of the Swedish Academy, which has provided greater authority to other members and reducing the position of the Permanent Secretary to a mere afterthought of its former glory.
In years past with previous Permanent Secretary’s the position was lively, dynamic, diplomatic, and ceremoniously welcomed. Where’s the literary statesmen of Horace Engdahl? The regality and grace of Sara Danius? The pure joy and excitement of Pere Englund? Even the sober and majestic control of Karl Ragnar Gierow. When it comes down to Mats Malm and Anders Olsson there is no excitement, joy, grace or majesty to the deliberations. Mats Malm is far to wooden and mechanical for a position which requires a sense of fluidity, flexibility, and dynamism in order to inspire and incite. Rather, Mats Malm carries an air of solemn sullenness. Then there is the matter of Anders Olsson, whose prescriptive rendering is so dry, directed, scripted and controlled. The script is scholarly in nature, dry and wooden. A monotone lecture delivered in the drawl of an uninspiring individual, who provides the impression of someone who has taken the opportunity rewrite a position of more public importance, in order to satisfy their starved carvings for external validation, or worst yet, maintain a tightened authority on the proceedings both in private and in public. Since being named the temporary Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy after the abdication and resignation of the late Sara Danius, Anders Olsson has remained a permanent fixture of authoritarian control. From 2018-2021, Anders Olsson has ostensibly pushed his way into handling or overtaking the majority of the responsibilities previously held by the Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, mainly because he is unable to hold the role himself due to age restrictions. Olsson’s stronghold on the responsibilities coupled with lack of imaginative appeal of Mats Malm creates an otherwise underwhelming award announcement, one which reeks of outdated and stale scholarly snobbery. This is all rather disappointing, as the Permanent Secretary in years past have always conducted the business with a personable touch, tossing aside all scripted measures in favour of an enjoyment of literature that creates a palpable pleasure. The current proceedings are as sterile as the deliverance of a church sermon in a doctor’s office. 
The announcement of Abdulrazak Gurnah as the Nobel Laureate for Literature for 2021, the world reacted with shock followed by the most delirious sensation of interest. Despite Gurna’s literary language being English, even the English speaking and publishing world was taken by surprise of Gurnah’s newly minted Nobel status. Even Abdulrazak Gurnah was suspicious at first, questioning Mats Malm’s call legitimacy, yet as the prize was announced and was officially relayed on the Nobel Prize website, there was no doubt Abdulrazak Gurnah was the Nobel Laureate in Literature. The reception to the award was largely positive, despite Gurnah being considered an obscure writer by all accounts and considerations, no different than say Herta Müller or Patrick Modiano. The only difference being Abdulrazak Gurnah writes and is published in English, therefore his obscurity is treated as acceptable, the neglect of Gurnah’s novels and his authorship resided with the failure of the reading public. Gurnah’s novels have always been critically acclaimed, favourably reviewed and received, they just always failed to gain the foothold with the reading public. In 2020, Abdulrazak Gurnah published: “Afterlives,” a novel exploring the brutality of Germany’s colonial rule in Eastern Africa. The novel was hailed as a masterpiece of literature, a testament of beauty and tragedy, and provided the necessary African perspective to the colonial context. However, the novel failed grab the attention of the reading public and was not published in the United States. In addition to being a published author, Abdulrazak Gurnah is a prominent and respected academic on the matter of Postcolonial Literature, where has become one of the most authoritarian voices on matters concerning the postcolonial literature perspective of the African Continent and has written critical studies on both Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o and the late Chinua Achebe. Regarding his lacking readership, Abdulrazak Gurnah casually responded: “I could do with more readers!” And has taken the Nobel Prize for Literature in its stride, showcasing little excitement or annoyance to the fuss the award brings.
On literary terms, Abdulrazak Gurnah’s themes should be not ignored as topical or fashionable considering the current migrant crisis taking place in the world, as displaced people seek refuge and asylum. The themes provided in Abdulrazak Gurnah’s novels, short stories and essays are pressing concerns regarding the experience of the refugee; the alienation of the individual in the wake of a postcolonial world; the trauma of war; the concept of home and its relationship to displacement and abandonment. These themes regardless of era, age, or time are timeless. These themes are incredibly close to Abdulrazak Gurnah personally, who as a refugee began to write from a sense of homesickness. Reflections, recollections and memories of Zanzibar were noted in his journals and from there his creative literary career began. The point of place remains a vivid focal point in Abdulrazak Gurnah’s work. Gurnah’s academic understanding of postcolonial literature, history, and studies in conjunction with his personal experience, informs his work beyond just academic authority, it further enriches it with testimonial legitimacy.
2021 was considered the year of African Literature, as many novels and writers heralding or dealing with the continent. This included the following writers and awards and honours:
David Diop – won the International Booker Prize for his novel: “At Night All Blood Is Black,” an account of the colonial Senegalese soldiers who fought during the World War I.
Mohamed Mbougar – has become the first Senegalese author to win the Prix Goncourt with his novel: “La plus secrète mémoire des hommes,” (“Men’s Most Secret Memories,”).
The Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga became the first African writer to add her voice to The Future Library Project and received The Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.
Damon Galgut won the Booker Prize for his novel: “The Promise,” a family saga of an Afrikaner South African family through Apartheid and post-Apartheid, and a failed promise ringing out through their personal and dysfunctional history. 
The Senegalese writer and giant of African literature Boubacar Boris Diop was announced as the winner of the 2022 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. 
Due to ongoing complications caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Nobel Laureates for 2021 were unable to attend the festivities of the Nobel Week. As in the case of Louise Glück (2020), Abdulrazak Gurnah will be welcomed to attend Nobel Week at a later date when the pandemic has subsided, and the safety of the attendees would not be considered at risk.
—Nobel Laureates in Review—
Following is an overview of the previous Nobel Laureates in Literature (2020-2007) to provide an overview of the breadth and spectrum the Nobel Prize for Literature through a short personal retrospective of previous laureates.
Louise Glück – 2020
“[For] her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal.”
Louise Glück is the October Poet, with the sparse austerity of her poetry reflecting the refined and harvested beauty of October, the threshold of the years end. The month of extended dusks and redacted days. A month celebrating the cold clarity of the moon. A month of change, absence, and departures. In all an otherwise austere month. The poetry of Louise Glück is precise and exact. They are the delicate etchings of the season’s first morning frosted filigree on the windows. There is no room in her poetry for ostentatious postering. In contrast Glück gets to the point of the matter and with steely exactness lays the heart bare whereby she proceeds to pull back the layers thereby confronting the internal conflicts within each of us. Louise Glück refracts the personal through the cosmic, mythic, divine, and other modes of narration, including the botanic, to assemble and divine the anatomy of the universal.  
Peter Handke – 2019
“For an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience.”
There can be no denying that Peter Handke is one of the most influential writers of contemporary European Literature and German language literature. In the same vein as his countrymen Elfriede Jelinek and Thomas Bernhard, Peter Handke often wrote about the limitations of language. Where Jelinek wrote about the saturation of language in the modern world and Bernhard the manic and deranged embodiment of language, Peter Handke saw language as the means to rediscover and realize the individual’s relationship and comprehension of the world.  Handke has also made political guffaws as a writer. As in the case of the 1970 & 1971 Nobel Prizes for Literature, it can be speculated that literary merit was weighted against political sympathies in the case of Handke.
Olga Tokarczuk – 2018
“For a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life.”
There is no writer currently at work who compares to Olga Tokarczuk, whose literary career is a singular esoteric vision that revitalizes the worlds excruciating strangeness and wonder, leading to further inspiration, curiosity and exploration. Her works truly encompass the encyclopedic passion as referenced in the notation provided by the Swedish Academy. Olga Tokarczuk’s novels are hive like constructions that are psychological, philosophical, and encyclopedic in their obscure and arcane knowledge, becoming constellations of vignettes, perspectives, monologues, treaties, and discussions. Though initially independent in scope, they become the necessary fragments of a fractured and mosaic whole. A chaotic and literary geometric wonder that refreshes our understanding of reality, our relation to history, as well as the subconsciousness’s relationship to the universally mythic.
Kazuo Ishiguro – 2017
“Who in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.”
The art of memory, the skill of forgetting, the act of self-delusion, neglected self-awareness, revisionist perspectives, and restrained emotional prose, these are the pillars of Kazuo Ishiguro’s bibliography. Humanistic narratives revolving around memory and the individual’s relationship to history. Kazuo Ishiguro frames the act of remembrance through varying elements and contexts be it the post-war, dystopian, Kafkaesque, or mythic. Ishiguro is a renowned writer and even though his Nobel rings with merit and is acceptable, it still shadowed by the mists of compromise. Speculation persists of perhaps more deserving candidates, who had greater literary scope or vision, appeal, and influence. Yet, Kazuo Ishiguro’s award acknowledges fine-tuned and crystalline prose, which capitalize and employee negative space with artful narrative mastery.
Svetlana Alexievich – 2015        
“For her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.”
The Nobel Prize for Literature is not just limited to novelists, poets, and playwrights, as Svetlana Alexievich is testament to. Renowned as a journalist and historian, Alexievich made a career as an independent and investigative writer and cartographer of the Soviet and Post-Soviet landscape, collective psychology, and spiritual soul. Through interviews, testimonies, and witness accounts, Svetlana Alexievich pieces together a tapestry of tragedy and resilience. Alexievich’s recounts, retraces, and rediscovers history through the human element. From the women soldiers of the Red Army during the Second World War; the horrors, the suffering, the onslaught of tragedy, and the enduring resilience of the Chernobyl crisis; to the survey of Eastern Europe today after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Iron Curtain. Svetlana Alexievich has become the chronicler of contemporary times.
Patrick Modiano – 2014
“For the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destines and uncovered the life-world of the occupation.”
If Marcel Proust is the surveyor regarding memory and time as the encapsulation and enshrinement of a life measured and experienced as a gilded record of beauty; then Patrick Modiano is the registrar of memory and time as frayed immaterial dead ends on the verge of collapse, as corroding amnesia leads into the abyss of oblivion. Through repetitive novels, Modiano’s characters continually excavate the past, seeking out lost individuals and shadowy silhouettes, vying for ghostly connections which may or may not have existed. The narrators are vagabonds, wanders, dreamers, and investigators, who slink through the dense fog with casual weariness. Modiano’s prose is simple, suspenseful, and enigmatically ambiguous, shrouded in a thick gossamer of incomprehension and inarticulation. Patrick Modiano was one of those surprising Nobel Laureates but has become perfectly welcomed and enjoyable. The art of memory as noir, incomprehensible, and a faint echo lost in ellipses of an afterimage are the hallmarks of Patrick Modiano.  
Alice Munro – 2013
“Master of the contemporary short story.”
Emily Dickinson wrote: “Tell all the truth/but tell it slant,” which is exactly what Alice Munro does as an insightful observer, who provides suggestive subtleties and indirect insinuations of reality and how individuals interact with it. Munro’s work prunes out ornamentation and opulent prose or any sense of luxurious formalism, which would be out of place in her manicured short stories. Her themes of time, love, relationships, mercurial morality, aging, open secrets, personal histories, disappointments, moral hypocrisy (and decay), and scenes of daily life, pair well with her unflinching survey of the bleak authoritarian world of the small town and rural Canadian landscape, with its demanding oppressive moral structures and scriptures that mandate obedience and conformity. Her work is a masterful example of intimate and enclosed psychological realism in the miniature and mundane. Alice Munro’s win is an endearing nod to the short story, which is always considered a lesser then form.
Mo Yan – 2012
“Who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history, and the contemporary.”
Literature and politics are not always exclusive. When Mo Yan was named the Laureate in Literature in 2012, there was a severe response of praise and disgust. To no surprise politics played in part. The only politics which are considered literary is dissidence; anything else in short is endorsement and propaganda. Unfairly or fairly these arguments were thrusted and leveraged against Mo Yan who is at risk of becoming the Mikhail Sholokhov Laureate of the 21st Century. With regards to his literary style, Mo Yan is known for his historical epics and utilization of magical realism and hallucinatory imagery to blend colourful contrary themes, perspectives, and images; Mo Yan also employees slapstick comedy to mask or make light of sensitive topics. Endorsed satire or literary propaganda? There is no central ground with Mo Yan, one either appreciates his work, or finds it unappealing both aesthetically and politically.
Tomas Tranströmer – 2011
“Because, through his condescended translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality.”
If Pablo Neruda is the poetic elemental flame, palpable, enriching, warming, and igniting in sensual pleasure; Tomas Tranströmer is the measured expanding crispness of ice, a translucent clarity of crystalline perfection ringing out with metaphysical music. The natural worlds beauty plays a monumental role in the poetry of Tomas Tranströmer, a place of wonder in its primeval purity and innocence, unencumbered by the self-indulgent concerns of people or modern society. A master of the metaphor, Tranströmer conjured the most adequate expression of existence through inventive and incisive imagery. His poetry is detached and preoccupied with the cerebral land of dreams and the natural landscape, eschewing any personal confessions or sociological commentary. By branching from modernism, expressionism, and surrealism, Tomas Tranströmer crafted epiphanic lyrical compositions which provided poetic perspective through deceptive simplicity and clarity to provide an understanding of thought to the enigma of life.
Mario Vargas Llosa – 2010
“For his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant image of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat.”
One of the greats from the Latin American Boom whose bibliography expands beyond his epicist novels to include essays, journalism (reportage), and plays. Mario Vargas Llosa’s oeuvre is rich not just in literary form, but also genre as Vargas Llosa’s work includes autobiographical novels, historical epics, satires, and even erotica. The forms and styles of Mario Vargas Llosa have evolved significantly through his career, ranging from late modernism to postmodernism, leading Mario Vargas Llosa to become one of the contemporary masters of the South American Literature alongside fellow Nobel Laureates Octavio Paz and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, as well as giants Carlos Fuentes and Julio Cortázar. Awarding the Nobel Prize for Literature to Mario Vargas Llosa was not shocking, but an acknowledgement of one of the great writers of the Southern Hemisphere and Spanish language.
Herta Müller – 2009
“Who, with the concentration of poetry and frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed.”
The linguistic zeal of Herta Müller is unmistakable. Her sentences are known for their metaphorical mastery which create poetic pointillistic narratives that are both beautiful and bleak. The novels, short stories, essays, and poetry of Herta Müller are renowned for their linguistic ingenuity, beautiful turn of phrases, a detailed eye for image, symbol, and statement, but a preoccupation with details, which slowly takes a panoramic view of the internal in relation to the external. Language is the basis of all of Müller’s novels providing a thorough understanding of how language shapes an individual’s perspective and relation to reality and the way they interact with it; but also, how language is manipulated for political ideology to subdue the populace, propagate terror, and maintain authority. Just as language can be abused for political predilections, it can also be utilized as the means of resistance, and Herta Müller provides poetic proof to languages greatest ability to undermine and subvert the authoritarian and autocratic rule of political linguistics, and champion dissidence through reclamation of language at a literary level.
J.M.G Le Clezio – 2008
“Author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization.”
J.M.G Le Clezio is described as the nomadic writer moving through culture and languages with ease; yet his literary language remains exclusively French. Le Clezio’s earlier novels are noted for their influence and participation in the literary movement of the Nouveau roman (New Novel) with their formalistic experimentation with form and the explorations of the limitations of language. His mature themes are more humanistic, ecological, ethnographic, and adventurously anthropological in scope, complete with an exploratory display of language as an ever-flowing current of sensual, lavish, and poetic exploration, which provides mediative pause and reflection to the reality of a world ceaselessly engaged in materialistic consumption and industrial production, which provides further inequalities and disasters to the less fortunate and impoverished. Despite being a surprising Laureate, J.M.G Le Clezio is by far one of the most humanistic in literary vision.
Doris Lessing – 2007
“That epicist of the female experience, who with skepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny.”
Doris Lessing was the inquisitor of the times, who was an unapologetic humanist of the first order, and became one of epicists of the 20th century, producing socially critical and skeptical novels, short stories, essays, and lectures that truly did bring civilizations to scrutiny. She conducted scathing autopsies on colonial pasts and attitudes; revolted against the imperial snobbery of the generation before her; pondered and questioned the ever-present threat of nuclear annihilation; and monitored liberating social movements, though was greatly annoyed to be associated with any of them (she was opposed being described as a feminist). Doris Lessing’s literary work trace the 20th century in the psychological, social, political, and ideological developments, in her continued visionary epically long novels, while providing further scrutiny within her own autobiographies, tracing her own connection to the turbulence of the past century. Doris Lessing’s bibliography is a marvel, it’s a spectrum of criticism, understanding, ideological fashions and views, as well as a maturation of contrary commentary. Throughout it all stands Doris Lessing’s testament that literature is both the scribe of the times, but also the critical examiner.
As the Nobel Laureates listed above showcase, the Nobel Prize for Literature in recent memory is a diverse palate of perspectives, literary methods, thematic concerns, modes of expression, styles, and critical perspectives, which Abdulrazak Gurnah’s name is added alongside. Doris Lessing for example has one of the longest literary careers, complete with an impressive literary bibliography, which includes a plethora of literary forms and genres. She’s famous for her rough-cut epic novels, such as the monumental “The Golden Notebook,” “The Sweetest Dream,” and The Children of Violence Series; but also, her ability to provide commentary through fantastic means such as her foray into science fiction with The Canopus Argos: Archives Series, “Memoirs of a Survivor,”; and her psychological hallucinatory novels, plummeting the interior like a Freudian spelunker. Then of course there are the countless short stories, essays, and lectures she delivered over the ages; and of course, her renowned memoirs, which are speculated to have been deciding factors in Doris Lessing receiving the Nobel Prize. Throughout it all though, Doris Lessing is renowned as one of the most important Post-War writers, who proved herself to be a fierce formidable scrutinizing social critic. In contrast, the bibliography of Kazuo Ishiguro is significantly smaller, his prose refined and polished to the point of considered dry. Unlike Doris Lessing, Kazuo Ishiguro is not a social critic, and his work is not as interested in recording the contemporary times with a critical eye. Instead, Ishiguro condenses the world through an intrapersonal perspective and providing ruminations on memory and our relation to history through it.
As noted above as well, the political sphere of thought is not entirely severed from literary concerns, and the Swedish Academy has proven in the past that neither themselves nor the Nobel Prize for Literature are insulated from dilemma that politics will play. Archives tell us that politics were a part of the deliberations during the 1965, 1970, and 1971 awards. In recent memory politics were brought up regarding the laureates for 2019, 2015, 2012, and 2009. Peter Handke faced a similar situation as Pablo Neruda, providing political apologist and revisionist perspective regarding Serbia’s part in the Yugoslav Wars. I suspect much like Pablo Neruda, Peter Handke’s literary achievements will live on despite his misplaced political commentary. In the case of Svetlana Alexievich, her literary work is known for investigating and compiling witness testimony to matters which were politically sensitive of the time (Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and Chernobyl). Furthermore, she has taken on more dissident activities regarding the Belarussian crackdown on protestors calling for democratic reform. Herta Müller’s entire bibliography is centered around her personal experiences of living in Nicolae Ceaușescu’s authoritarian regime in Communist Romania. Müller’s award aligned with the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Even after leaving Communist Romania for then democratic West Germany, Müller remained an outspoke critic of the Soviet Union and communism, and threw her support behind dissident writers across world, and has been a vocal critic of China’s aggressive international policies.
In the years mentioned above, only two poets were awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, and both poets couldn’t be more different in their occupation of the form. Tomas Tranströmer was a first-class metaphor-smith, composing elliptic and epiphanic imagistic poems that invigorated new insight into the cerebral and natural worlds. The legacy of Tranströmer will certainly be his ability to turn new phrases to revise our understanding and relationship to the otherwise commonplace, mundane, and everyday realities. When Tomas Tranströmer finally received the award, there was no controversy regarding his nationality, as there was more than enough literary merit to support the decision. Time was also a contributing factor, as Tomas Tranströmer was 80 years old at the time of his award and had already suffered a stroke two decades prior. Louise Glück in turn crafted poetry with a preoccupation for narration. Where Tomas Tranströmer wrote poetry with imagistic beauty founded on his mastery of the metaphor to re-examine our relationship and understanding of reality; Louise Glück provided an exact concrete commentary of the facts and figures of life. Glück has brewed and ruminated over trauma, desire, failed relationships, death, aging, loss of innocence, separation, the pains of love, spiritual hunger, as well as the act of healing and renewal. Glück is a poet who acknowledges mortality as a fact of life. Her poetry is infused with a chorus of characters both mythic, divine, seasonal, botanic, and personal. Louise Glück is that severe earthbound poet who is unencumbered by frivolities of possibilities, she remains sure footed in the land of clarity and transition, reaping hard truths while planting kernels of resilient beauty. In the same fashion as autumn, Glück acknowledges the receding summer, while preparing for the coming winter, and holding out for the eventual spring. This contemplation of the crossroads is where Glück thrives, always in the realm of the contrary, the changing, and the transitional conflicts of existence.
—Lest We Forget—
Time is finite and fleeting. Not all justifiable writers receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. These neglected writers are often named as critical talking points of the legitimacy of the Nobel Prize for Literature, especially when it is considered the Gold Standard. Writers who have been overlooked by the Nobel Prize for Literature included: Leo Tolstoy, James Joyce, Jorge Luis Borges, Philip Larkin, China Achebe, and the list goes on and on. As the archives are released bit by bit every year, the reading public is provided a glimpse of the internal workings of the Swedish Academy. The academy and its subpart the Nobel Committee are not a harmonic and euphonic chorus of agreement. No, it is a cacophonous cabinet of bickering, disagreements, and compromises. Proposed writers are pushed forward like chess pieces and bartering chips, whereby they are exchanged and discarded from the board with equal casualty. Loyalties are secured and divisions enacted.    
Review of the archives show a human petulance to the proceedings. The rationale can be dubious and even questionable. For example, the esteemed American poet Robert Frost was denied the Nobel Prize for Literature due to advanced age. The great playwright Henrik Ibsen was denied because his work was to realistic and not idealistic enough (qualifications now considered moot). W.H Auden was denied because his best years and work have already passed, and André Malraux was a politician a fact that eclipsed all his literary achievements.
The following list is a personally curated list of writers who have since passed and did not receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. In this list, I specifically hunted for writers from the Indian sub-continent. I once read that the former Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy Sture Allen, commented that the writers heralding from that massive country, were only writing gibberish. I find this perspective as insular and dismissive, and unnecessarily so. I find it difficult throughout the 20th Century, that a country as large, diverse, rich in culture, history, and so colourful in its linguistic palate, that there was no great Indian writer.
Sirkka Turkka – Finland – I have hoped and favoured the idea of Sirkka Turkka for years, unfortunately, she died late last October. As a poet Sirkka Turkka wrote elegant and elegiac poems. The natural world played a significant role in the poetry and works of Turkka, who tendered and treated it with respect and appreciation. In contrast, though, the natural world provided an ever-present reminder of death as a reality, while life is but a finite experience. Sirkka Turkka was the patron poet of animals, who populated her collections with endearment, respect and admiration. Animals are never presented as objects or anonymous beings who flint into view to provide symbolic shadowing or representation, they are treated as living and palpable beings, whose density’s run parallel to our own, but also become the points of death and grief. There company tender, touching and fleeting all the same. Sirkka Turkka remained an independent voice and lyrical vision, disinterested in the literary fashions of the time. Her work continually explored the natural world, the animalistic world, and the human world as they orbited, touched and influenced each other. Turkka was a conjurer of the natural world, often through the use of her deceptively simple and conversational poems. What was most endearing (and I suspect what will be her enduring quality) of Sirkka Turkka’s poetry is its accessibility. All readers were welcome to the windows, the fireside, and the table in which one can imagine her poems being crafted and recited from. This approachability ensured that Sirkka Turkka’s poetry was not encapsulated and entombed in the alienating ivory tower of poetics. Rather, Turkka’s poetry remains earthbound, modest, and discoverable to all. She had friends on the Swedish Academy, as Tua Forsström translated her work into Swedish and Per Wästberg who helped ensure she was the first Finnish poet to receive the Tranströmer Prize in 2016. Wästberg also wrote admiring memoriam article in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet regarding the poet, sharing his respect and admiration for her. Her famous collection of poems: “Come back, little Sheeba,” have recently been translated into Danish, which brings to light the harmonic and mythic landscape Sirkka Turkka summons in her poetry, with the titular Sheeba, being the subject of love, loss, death, and grief. Yet it is from this death life comes forth once again. Just as winter cedes to spring, so too does life. Respect, admiration and appreciation of the natural, primeval and animal worlds are the hallmarks of Sirkka Turkka’s poetry. It is disappointing to think that Sirkka Turkka will not receive the Nobel Prize for Literature and will most likely remain unpublished or underrepresented in the English language, due to the complexities of the Finnish language.
Nirmal Verma – India – A foremost and formidable Hindi writer of the 20th Century, Nirmal Verma, is often considered one of the greatest practitioners and pioneers of the Nai Kahani (New Story) literary movement of Indian and Hindi language Literature. The New Story movement sought to provide an understanding of India modernizing post-Independence, it concerned the battle of the sexes, as woman began to enter the workforce, a change in traditional roles and values, at the dawn of a new and independent era, complete with an increasingly urbanizing and industrializing environment. Nirmal Verma became the observer and chronicler of these changes, which he encapsulated in his short stories. Independence did not change realities of India, the expulsion of the English, did not solve housing crisis, inadequate infrastructure, unemployment, government corruption, and the disappearing small middle class. All of these trials and tribulations were jotted down and written about. Like many young left-wing intellectuals of the 20th Century, Nirmal Verma, held sympathetic ideals for Communist, but became quickly disillusioned after the Prague Spring, which saw many intellectuals and writers renounce their communist sympathies. Beyond short stories, Verma wrote novels, essays, and travelogues; and was a noted translator from Czech into Hindi. One of famous example is Milan Kundera, who became more renowned and popular in India, before finding greater acclaim in the Western World. Nirmal Verma’s later work was noted for thematically being inspired by the Hindu traditions and bring them forward in a modernist concept. This continued reliance on Hindu themes and identity led critics to align Verma with a more nationalistic right, through his enriched stances on traditions. His finest deployment of craft and literary mastery was his ability to explore the mundane and realistic and lace it with a transparent yet palpable empathy and understanding for the difficulties of the time; the mood of change and urbanization; the realities of industrialization changing the economic situation; all of which was grasped in the lyrical, imagistic, and symbolically rich literary language of Nirmal Verma. Then of course the rich and varied essays and travelogues.
Mavis Gallant – Canada (Residence France) – Mavis Gallant was a cosmopolitan writer. Independent in life as she was in her writing career, and unapologetic in these visions too. Her childhood was known for being particularly unhappy, but also provided her the flexibly in character to adapt to different places. This sense of rootlessness describes the characters that populate her short stories (which is a particular master of), novels, and plays. Gallant’s characters are displaced, exiled, disposed, and utterly abandoned in the world. They are left to rebuild or begin again, to start anew if you will. The sense of place remained a very palpable product of Gallant’s work. Be it a Parisian Street; Montreal in winter; or the North-East of the United States. Regional identity, nationalism with all of its extremes (and consequences), and limitations of language, particularly the mother tongue are touching explored. Throughout her inspiring singular career as a writer, Mavis Gallant published her short stories in the New Yorker, becoming a staple of its fiction. Her stories embraced all the contrarian necessities of life, being both comic and tragic; heartfelt and vitriolic; tender and then cruel in the searing. A master of irony, Gallant was able to sketch just enough of a personal history to insinuate of a life already lived, complete with thwarted dreams and disappointments.  The characters who populate Mavis Gallant’s work are not exceptional individuals, they are ordinary. They are civil servants, tax agents, the exiled and displaced, disposed aristocrats, immigrants, disappointed artists, servants, abandoned children, disgruntled children, resentful spouses. An entire spectrum of lives, each riddled with their own complications. Moving away to Paris as a young adult, to find success as a writer (which she did) meant Gallant was alienated from the Canadian literary scene and landscape, and was neglected by Canadian publishers, agents, and others (I’d go so far as to say petulantly ostracized). Her stories are renowned for their details, for capturing the flavour of the times. As chronicler of taste, Gallant’s cinematographic abilities of the sensory, provided the flesh for these imagined lives being lived. Through irony and with empathy, Mavis Gallant, was able to capture and document Post-War Europe with an outsider’s clarity. Her characters are all expats or aliens attempting to substantiate and assimilate in some fashion into their new lives, their new situations, and their new realities. Gallant’s Europe was one of shipwrecks, of devastations. From its ruin and displacement, Europe rebuilt, providing Gallant the opportunity to watch it recalibrate and realign. As far as Canadian writers go, Mavis Gallant is by far the more cosmopolitan and alien. A poet of the displaced, who with an ironic bent and an empathetic understanding.
Eugène Guillevic – France – As a poet, Eugène Guillevic, was a cubist commentator who eschwed symbolism and metaphorical poetic language. Instead, Guillevic wrote straightforward poems with substance and material resonance. French poetry in 20th Century was eclipsed by the shadows cast from the ambiguities of symbolism and the obscurities of surrealism, Eugène Guillevic, in contrast (and perhaps in resistance) carved out a singular poetic vision through sparse language, concrete images, practical insights through the perception and understanding of physical objects. This poetic independent poetic vision made Eugène Guillevic one of the most favoured French poets of the 20th Century. Due to a formal education in mathematics and a career as a civil servant who worked extensively economics, Guillevic had a rigorous understanding of form and assets, and utilized an economical approach to language to ensure compression and concentration. Poetry as a literary form is often accused of being frivolous, airy, esoteric, and pretentiously self-indulgent; Eugène Guillevic could not be more firm footed and opposed such allegations. Through poetry which employed a crisp and compressed language, Eugène Guillevic, did not reimagine, revise, or obfuscate reality in new dimensions of readers to reevaluate or come to anew; as a poet of a substantial and a materialistic vision, Guillevic, presented the image as it is and described its wonder with his earthly geometric manner, neglecting ornamentation and adulteration of the purity of the facts. Its difficult to imagine a poet whose poems are titled as: “Acute Angle,” or “Rectangle,” and make these irrefutable, unimpeachable, articulations of space as defined within the realm of the physical science is revived from the analog stasis and presented to the world through a literary lens, taking on new narratives.
Mulk Raj Anand – India (English Language) – As previously mentioned, India is a massive country with colourful languages spanning all over the country, from region to region. English, however, occupies a transplanted language. It is the language of the colonizer. In the context of India, English became a literary language with its own right, and was not just employed in an governing or administrative capacity, on bureaucratic forms and documents, the language of the records. Mulk Raj Anand is considered one of the founding writers of the Anglo-Indian literary movement. His debut novel: “Untouchable,” was a vicious and chilling portrait of the untouchable caste of the Indian caste system. The novel is a brutal social critique of the caste system, exposing its puritanical pillars in order to control, marginalize, and alienate individuals in society. “Untouchable,” employed Hindi and Punjabi idioms within the English language context and led to Mulk Raj Anand to be crowned as the Charles Dickens of the Indian Sub-Continent, who championed social egalitarianism, not by grand polemic arguments or political rhetoric, but by getting to the heart of the matter, the human element, and exploring it, providing the reflective measures in order to enlighten the realities of the travesties of the time. What followed were further novels, short stories, essays, and poems, all which further enshrined Mulk Raj Anand as that Anglo-Indian writer, a curiosity of the time, but who admirable output provided a unique perspective of India both colonial and post-Independent. His autobiographies were equally insightful, showcasing a well-traveled and well-connected literary man. A chronicler of the Anglo-Indian experience, of a country coming into its own independence, certainly make Mulk Raj Anand a compelling author to research into further.
João Cabral de Melo Neto – Brazil – In fashion similar to Pablo Neruda and Octavio Paz, João Cabral de Melo Neto was equal parts poet and diplomat. With a career in diplomacy and international relations. In the same fashion as Pablo Neruda and Ocatvio Paz, João Cabral de Melo Neto became one of the most celebrated and important poets of Brazil in the 20th Century. The poetry of Melo Neto is often compared to architectural draftsmanship with an acute attention to detail that describes the heart of the matter and remains firmly acknowledging of the geometric influences of the world. Through deceptively simple language and an engineer’s eye for structural integrity, João Cabral de Melo Neto’s poems are reminiscent of polished lapidary jewelry, sparkling with beauty without betraying the effort involved in craftsmanship. This draftsmanship need for poetic construction over aesthetic self-indulgence and personal exploration, ensures that the poetry of João Cabral de Melo Neto curtails authoritarian control. The poetic landscape is acutely described and constructed in a matter-of-fact manner with an objective concrete understanding. The sustenance of João Cabral de Melo Neto’s poetry is the material of reality, complete with a lucid language which continues to encapsulate reality as it is observed and experienced; not just new ways in which to interact with it or slant the perspective of how it is viewed; but encapsulate reality with crystalline language.
Shūsaku Endō – Japan – Between the two Japanese Nobel Laureates in Literature Yasunari Kawabata and Kenzaburō Ōe, there existed the short lived Third Generation of writers, which included, Shūsaku Endō, who is perhaps the most easily remembered from this generation. Where Yasunari Kawabata fused western modernism with Japanese sensibilities, and Kenzaburō Ōe created complex and personal postmodernist novels of scathing social critiques; Shūsaku Endō was contrary even further. Endō’s literary career is always marked by his religious affiliation and devote Catholic faith. These religious connotations inevitability leeched their way into his literary perspective. The identity of Catholicism or Christian sympathy was always contorted against Shūsaku Endō, when evaluating the authors work from a literary criticism perspective, often being compared to the 20th Century French Catholic writers of the time (who were major influences on Endō). It is often rumored and speculated that the Nobel Prize for Literature was balanced between Shūsaku Endō and Kenzuaburo Oe. Though Shūsaku Endō wrote marvelous historical novels, the continued preoccupation with religious connotations and contexts may have proved to have been a dissuading factor with the Swedish Academy, who may have viewed his evangelical commitments as dated and insularly singular in their own selfish apostolic approach. Yet, removing the denominational framework of Shūsaku Endō’s novels, there was plenty discussions regarding the moral fabric and failings of the human condition, notions of faith as theological concepts and concerns, rather than firebrand vernacular preaching’s of brimstone and fire. The consequences of morals and the crises of faith were the cornerstones and lodestones of Shūsaku Endō’s work and endear him to readers as a conscionable moralist whose observations of human frailties (both physically and theologically) are considered enduring.
Raja Rao – India (English Language) – One of the most significant writers heralding from Indian whose literary language was also English, becoming along with Mulk Raj Anand and R. K. Narayan a pioneer of the English language as a literary language within the Indian literary canon. Where Mulk Raj Anand took on the stance of social critic in his debut “Untouchable,” Raja Rao remains more a philosophical and spiritual oriented in his literary preoccupations and concerns. By using the language of the colonizer and removing it from the administration and bureaucracy of the government and the orders of the day, and in turn counter-colonized the language to describe the sense, sights, sounds, pleasures, tribulations of the Indian experience, ensuring it can be disseminated to the larger English reading public in turn. Raja Rao explored metaphysical questions and theories within his work. In his semiautobiographical novel: “The Serpent and the Rope,” vaguely chronicles the breakdown and disintegration of his marriage to his first wife, who was a French academic. The novel sought to explore the irreconcilable differences between an Eastern mindset the Western manners. His other famous novel: “The Cat and Shakespeare,” in fabulist fashion revolves around two friends of different temperament. One who remains resilient, ambitious, and moves through life with gusto, whose life’s unorthodox philosophizing and conclusions, become a point of contention for the narrator, friend, and neighbour who becomes the reluctant participant. Salman Rushdie once classified Raja Rao’s work as grandiloquent and archaic. It’s difficult to imagine Rushdie changing this perspective of Raja Rao now. As a writer, Raja Rao was renowned for introducing English readers to the diverse and coloruful world of southern India. Themes of mysticism and preoccupations with the eastern philosophy may have deemed him more a philosopher playing writer or have him sidelined as being less literary serious than others, but these perspectives, thoughts, and traditions should not be looked over or tossed aside as eccentric but appreciated and understood in the cultural and literary context in which they are framed.
Tawfiq al-Hakim – Egypt – The dawn of modern Egyptian literature rests on the shoulders of Nobel Laurate in Literature Naguib Mahfouz and Tawfiq al-Hakim. Yet, much in the same fashion as Yasunari Kawabata and Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, the Nobel would only be awarded to one. As a writer, Tawfiq al-Hakim is noted for being a revolutionary voice in Egyptian letters, especially in the realm of modern drama and theatre. Thanks to his studies in Paris, al-Hakim was exposed to the variety of Parisian theatre and opera, which distracted him from his doctoral, before it was abandoned with the author set to return to Egypt with thoughts of how to revolutionize its theatrical landscape, which at the time was dominated by the late verse plays of the Egyptian Prince of Poets Ahmed Shawqi. Immediately from his debut in the 30’s, Tawfiq al-Hakim established himself as the grandmaster of modern Egyptian theatre, with his plays developing the biographical theatre, the objective theatre, and the intellectual theatre. The biographical section of al-Hakim’s work consisted of personal perspective and stories that reflected the authors opinions of the world. The plays which fell into the objective school, sought to reflect Egyptian society in their social reality, removing biographical elements. The intellectual plays were not written to be performed but read and were often published separately without productions. As a playwright, Tawfiq al-Hakim grasped the language of the Egyptian people, understood their social realities, preoccupations, and concerns. To watch, a play by al-Hakim was a mirror image to the realities of the streets, complete with an authentic language.
Marie-Claire Blais – Canada | Quebec (French language) – Marie-Claire Blais was often considered the dark horse of Canadian literature. Despite being read, acclaimed, and admired in Quebec, her work was rarely acknowledged in the English-speaking parts of country, and when it was, it was always in hushed voices in basement bars or in back alleys. As a writer, Marie-Claire Blais was in a class all her own, finding her literary roots in late modernism, the Nouveau roman (the New Novel) and early postmodernism. Marie-Claire Blais is famous for her multivolume novels starting with “Sofis,” (“These Festive Islands,”) which has encapsulated the realities and events of the ending of the 20th Century and the start of the 21st Century. In a fashion similar to Balzac, Zola, Proust, or even Modiano, the novels touch and influence each other, with a cast of characters (ranging over 100) flitting between the pages and between the novels. This ensemble was made up a colourful cast of personalities, individuals and occupations, which inhabit the uniquely uncanny universe of Blais. They included drag queens, painters, writers, barfly’s (drunks, alcoholics, and bartenders), prostitutes, precocious children, drifters, and lapsed and disassociated adults. The series was written in long winding and meandering sentences, like the Hungarian master of the apocalypse László Krasznahorkai. As a chronicler, Marie-Claire Blais brings to life and mind the not so distant and alienating past of the 20th Century Montreal and Quebec, who suffered in abject humiliation under the dual heels of English prominence (and dominance) and the oppressively puritanical scrutiny of the Catholic church. Marie-Claire Blais’s Montreal was one riddled with moral hypocrisy, blue collar ideals, broken families, disappointment, and unsavory understanding of the human condition. Her literary vision was absolutely formed when she first published “La Belle Bête,” (English: “Mad Shadows,”) in 1959. Her fasciation with the monstrous, macabre and grotesque, was tempered with her deft humour and laced with beautiful dark lyricism. Marie-Clair Blais’s lyrical vivisection and depiction of the la grande noirceur of Quebec is presented in the misanthropic spleen and faintly nihilistic exhaustion expressed by her characters, in a fashion reminiscent of Charles Baudelaire or Fyodor Dostoevsky, as Blais had little to no interest sociological examination or reduction or moral convictions. Perhaps the crowning achievement of Marie-Claire Blias remains her monumental and singularly palpable Sofis Cycle of novels, which truly recount with an immediacy the events over the tail end of one century and the natal decades of another, completed with her noir lyricism and flexible postmodern form.
R. K. Narayan – India (English Language) – Mulk Raj Anand was the writer as social critic and commentator and Raja Rao was the writer as spiritual inquisitor and philosopher, then R. K. Narayan was the purveyor and observer of the social comedy regarding all the failings and folies of the human condition, which he wrote about with warm and empathetic understanding. In the same fashion of Mulk Raj Anand and Raja Rao, R. K. Narayan’s literary language was English, and much like his aforementioned contemporaries, used the colonizers language to enlighten and broadcast the diverse and wonderous world of the Indian subcontinent to the greater readership. Of the three, R. K. Narayan was arguably the most beloved, a writer who wrote about the destinies of the ordinary people, whose lives complete hypocritical blunders, Ponzi schemes, and failures of character, did not necessarily mean moral failures or absence from redemption. One step further, R. K. Narayan created a literary world (or rather town), which occupied the imaginations of so many Indian readers. The fictional town of Malgudi became synonymous with Indian literature and in essence became the metaphorical microcosm of the entire Indian subcontinent and through this lens readers abroad gained an understanding of life, culture, and experience of the Indian subcontinent, while the citizens gained a metaphor and sense of identity, a point of pride; much in the same fashion as Gabriel Garcia Marquez created Macondo. Where Rushdie argued that Raja Rao’s work was archaic and betrayed its grandiloquent conception, he had nothing but praise for Narayan and the Malgudi which every Indian reader and citizen came to identity with as a point of pride. R. K. Narayan’s gentle, sympathetic and tender understanding of the human condition was always on full display, with light touch of the comedy and the absurd, make even the most unlikely of characters find redemption. All the while Malgudi remained consistent through crisis after crisis: the Raj, Independence, Partition, and The Emergency, all failed to infiltrate Malgudi, which had its own problems to contest with—those ever fickle more human problems that are resistant to political inflection, but daily occurrences. What made (and makes) R. K. Narayan such an endearing writer and timeless, is the human condition is understood in all its tragicomic wonders. There is no philosophical examination or progressive commitments to social change, it’s a writer who is endeared to the people and the landscape and seeks to encapsulate it with all its wonder into timeless eternity.

Inger Christensen – Denmark – Undeniably one of the most important and famed Danish writers of the 20th Century, Inger Christensen was a prominent practitioner of experimental poetry, who found an enthusiastic and unyielding readership in the German language, and much like her compatriots Hans Christen Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard will certainly continue to endure long after her death and become a staple of 20th Century European Literature and poetry. Christensen’s first collections of poetry “Light,” and “Grass,” tested the boundaries of self-awareness and knowledge, as well as the role of language in perception. Yet her breakthrough collection of poetry has been the remarkable volume titled, det (Eng. “It,”) which began her exploration of aesthetic, social and political concerns, and has become a classic of Danish poetry, testifying to Christensen’s poetic scrutiny when contemplating the intangible perplexities of philosophical thought. “It,” was followed by Alfabet (Eng. “Alphabet,”) in the 80’s and cemented Inger Christensen as the most beloved, read and popular poet of Danish literature. “Alphabet,” is a structural marvel, based on Fibonacci’s mathematical sequence, while the entire poetry collection itself is a systematic poem, with each section corresponding to a letter of the alphabet. The poetry collection itself deals with themes of nuclear and ecological disaster. If poetry rivals the material and structural sense of architecture then “Alphabet,” is a prime example that poetry is not just scattered thoughts lost in the winds or breeze, but structured, categorized, and as taxonomically rigid and precise as any scientific discipline. “The Butterfly Valley,” collection showcases Inger Christensen ability to work within traditionally formatted forms, in this instance the refined and classic sonnet. The Butterfly Valley sequence specifically utilizes the butterfly in all its colourful splendor, while also commenting on their frailness as creatures and short inevitable mortality. Beyond poetry, Inger Christensen wrote experimental and complicated novels as well as contemplative essays. When reviewed as a whole, the neglect and oversight to provide Inger Christensen with the Nobel Prize for Literature, will be a haunting mistake for the Swedish Academy, much in the same vein as Leo Tolstoy and James Joyce continue to haunt the award today.
Philip Larkin – United Kingdom – Perhaps one of the most important Post-War English poets, Philip Larkin recounted with dreary bludgeoning accuracy the drudgery of life after the Second World War in the United Kingdom. Larkin’s poetry surveyed the cheapened expectations of the Post-War world, where everyone was expected to lower their sights, accept the discounted reality, compromise, and settle, for what else were the alternatives. Influenced by W.H. Auden, Thomas Hardy, and W.B Yeats, Philip Larkin’s verse was as flexible as jazz, combining high lyricism with vernacular speech, providing Larkin the medium to display the acceptable discontent. Larkin’s public persona followed in a similar lineage to his poetry, no nonsense, stalwart, stoic and solitary, the kind of individual who had no interest in fame or any desire or patience to participate in the public spectacle of intellectual life. Larkin’s early life is best described as quintessentially middle class, respectable but cold. His mother was neurotic and passive, whose constitution is best defined as meek and frail; while his father was a self-made man, ambitious and driven, though nihilistically pessimistic and maintained sympathies for Nazism. Perhaps a reflection to the famous line: “they fuck you up, your mum and dad,” from “This Be The Verse,” from the poetry collection: “High Windows.” Beyond his somber sensibilities and dour pessimistic poetic proclivities, Larkin wrote two novels: “Jill,” and “A Girl in Winter,” both of which are often overlooked and eclipsed by his poetic achievements, which were Larkin’s bread and butter as much as they were his gin and tonic, but they were masterful examples of a poet being able to move between both poetry and prose. I often imagined that Larkin would have preferred to have been a prose writer, and been a novelist like his friend Kingsley Amis, more so than a poet. It is said that he envisioned his novels: “Jill,” and “A Girl in Winter,” to be two parts of a trilogy, which would occupy innocence (“Jill,”), the loss of innocence and said consequences (“A Girl in Winter,”), while the third novel would be a reconciliation for life, emerging from the bog of loneliness. The third novel was never realized or written. Regardless, Philip Larkin’s reputation rested on the mantel of his poetry, rudimentary and unromantic. The poetic landscapes of Larkin were commonplace and mundane, complete with their ordinary façades all deprived of their sense of illusion and grandeur. His poetic style was equally lacking in ostentatious ornamentation and found comfort in the vernacular and colloquial statements of the day. A plain voice that provided commentary on the realities of a world now laid waste and bare by yet another war. The paramount pessimism of Philip Larkin would most likely have had a curdling affect on the Swedish Academy, as it was not idealistic in tone or vision, but ironic in scope and perception, removed of the pretentious artifice of the bygone English poetry of Wordsworth. If members of the Swedish Academy held reservations and concerns regarding Samuel Beckett’s comedies that skirted nihilism, then surely, they would take issue with Larkin as the quintessential antithesis to any to any concept of ideal. Philip Larkin after all was known as the sensible stoic rationally pessimistic poet of the Post-War.
Mirkka Rekola – Finland – Poetry is perhaps the most difficult literary form to translate and present in a new language, as poetry is exclusively and explicitly intwined in the most intricate and primal components of the native language; moving with the language’s beats, grammatical flexibilities, inflections and tones, mining for metaphors, and presenting images and linguistic relations to tint or renew ones understanding and relation to the world through language. Mirkka Rekola is one such poet who is undoubtfully the most difficult writers to translate and make clear in another language, as her poetry is not woven within the Finnish language, but instead germinated, grown, and cultivated within the language’s beautiful complexities and niches, becoming a garden of the seasons and Finnish landscape, all the while shutting out foreign interlopers. Mirkka Rekola’s poetry is renowned for its distilled qualities and concentration of form, often being described as crystalline haikus or aphorisms, which Rekola was a prolific practitioner of, being one of the foundational writers to preserver the art of the aphorism in Finnish literature and culture. As an aphorist, Rekola is regarded being one of the four writers to revive the form during the mid-20th Century, renewing the forms casual ability to endow wisdom and observation from the greater world and impart these observations on to any reader. As an aphorist Mirkka Rekola was noted as ‘The Mystic,’ crafting collections of aphorisms and prose poems throughout her lengthy career, never naming or titling them, but instead give them free form. Once again, these works are multifaceted and linguistically complex producing different meanings and interpretations through readings and by readers. They become texts to provide the faintest impression of an idea, a moment, an observation, encapsulated within text before free flowing into another thought. If traditional aphorisms were to provide direction or thought for a reader, then Rekola inverted this equation and created one in which the reader must discern the equation and answer, in essence providing them a cerebral sandbox for free thought. Rekola’s poetry in turn operate in the same fashion, shaking off absolutes provided by rational thought, and instead embrace an amorphous monist perspective of universality without conceptualizing it, as conceptualization would in turn establish inherent boundaries and categories. For Mirkka Rekola, poetry was an open sky free of clouds, it was expansive and endless, encompassing everything, which are the same traits Rekola attempts to recreate in her poetry, through free form association, destabilizing any presence of dualism. Despite being nominated for Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 2000, Mirkka Rekola’s poetry eludes English translation, and for good reason. Despite this, Mirkka Rekola is by far an accomplished and great poet of Finland and should be celebrated as such. If the Swedish Academy were to award Mirkka Rekola the Nobel Prize for Literature, there would no doubt be criticism, especially considering the complexities of her forms and her use of language.
Honorable Mentions
One of the most enjoyable parts about Nobel Speculation is the discovery of new writers who seem interesting and whose work we are eager to explore further. Yet not all writers can be included on Nobel Speculation Lists, due to personal bias or space, or any other arbitrary metric used to disqualify or see them exempt from any list. These writers are chosen for a variety of reasons, and they’ve found themselves exempt for inclusion for a variety of reasons in turn, but hopefully such a shock of exclusion will be mitigated with their addition here.
Adunis – Syria – Arabic poetry has a rich history, though it has often been appreciated and denounced throughout history depending on the theocratic and puritanical perspective being issued during that political context. By the 20th Century, however, a change was on the horizon with the rise of Adunis (Ali Ahmad Said Esber), who has been praised to have singlehandedly modernized and popularized Arabic language poetry to new perspectives and heights, in a fashion similar to T.S. Eliot in the Anglosphere. There can be no denying that Adunis since then has by and large been one of the most important poets and figures of world literature. Beyond his accomplishments as a poet, Adunis translates and operates as a ambassador within the poetic world, where he has translated the works of Saint John-Perse and Yves Bonnefoy into Arabic, while also accompanying other poets such as the late Tomas Tranströmer on a reading tour throughout the Arabic world, and wrote the introduction to his poems translated into Arabic poetry. Despite his literary renown, recognition, and appreciation, Adunis is not without his controversy or detractors, especially within the Arab world, where there have been calls for book burnings, as well as death threats levied against the poet, who have seen his criticism of Islam and Islamic law, along with traditional Arabic perspectives, rituals, and customs, as dangerous and hectic slander. In other words, the usual call to arms by puritanical fanatics. In spite of this, Adunis has been routinely nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature since the late 1980’s, and over the course of 30+ years has been routinely denied. There was speculation in 2011, after Adunis won the Goethe Prize that his Nobel Prize was all but secured. Instead, the award was given to Tomas Tranströmer. Now, in his 90’s, it is easy to suspect that the Nobel Prize for Literature has since slipped past Adunis. The Swedish Academy is not above making errors and has made several since the Nobel Prize for Literature was established. Sadly, the inability to award Adunis the Nobel Prize for Literature, will be considered another misstep and an egregious error in judgement. Of course, the Swedish Academy is resolute and indifferent to the criticism leveraged against it. Fortifying themselves against it and within it, if only to provide the illusion they are the sole arbitrators of serious, grand, and important literature. Despite not receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature (so far) Adunis, remains one of the most important literary figures of the previous half century and current century. A revolutionary literary and lyrical force, undeterred by both politics and religion.
Han Kang – (South) Korea – Since her novel “The Vegetarian,” won the International Booker Prize in 2016, Han Kang has remained a fixture of success of a translated writer in the English language. For years, Korean language literature was dominated by the aging poet Ko Un, whose verse were the only introduction and inclination to contemporary Korean language literature and thematic preoccupations. Yet, over the past years a plethora of Korean language writers and their works have been steadily translated and released into the English language, which has shown the entire spectrum of colours the Korean literary language scene is full of. A writer in particular has risen beyond the prodigious production of translations and publications and have taken on remarkable status of being admired and enjoyed. Han Kang is one such writer. Her work currently translated into the English language consists only of three works, the novel: “The Vegetarian,” and “Human Acts,” followed by the personal treatise: “The White Book.” Further works have not yet been translated, but the samples currently on offer have been well received. Han Kang writes with gentle penetrating prose, which skip across the surface of the novels violent or tumultuous currents. This light graceful and understated touch ensures Han Kang’s work remains clear of melodramatic approaches or overtly exaggerated caricatures of violence, which take away from their poignant potency and discursive discussion regarding violence in the variety of forms they take. When reviewing Han Kang’s work, there are often comparisons to her work being more emotionally engaged or enlivened with its palpable commitments and engagement with sociological and historically metaphorical preoccupations, and their relationship both to the individual and the macro social context of the time. The grace and ease in which Han Kang writes is a joy to read, but also enviable. The talent of the Kang is her ability to make her work appear so simple, so deft and effortless in delivery that there is no betrayal at the work that went into its production. Through prose, which is tender, graceful and poetic, Han Kang is a purveyor of the human condition as explored through an introspective yet interpersonal emotional and palpable context. In the coming years, Han Kang will be considered a likely candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Anne Carson – Canada – A Nobel contender and favourite for years now, Anne Carson is a bewildering writer, whose open defiance of conventional poetry’s form has caused the usual brand of poet to declare her anything but a poet. On the contrary though, Carson’s work does not subscribe to the perspective of prose. Instead, Anne Carson has crafted her own brand of alchemical compound of poetry and prose welded together with discursive discussions on the classics, philosophy, and mythology. Despite this—or perhaps because of this—Anne Carson is not only critically acclaimed, but popular among readers, who find her chimeric writings refreshingly rebellious. For a poet to be popular among readers is certainly an engaging sign, regarding her appeal. Yet, it is the hybrid fashion and form of Carson’s work which makes it so strangely unique and interesting. By blending poetic structures, essayistic scrutiny and academic interests, Anne Carson has crated a literary oeuvre of experimental and lyrical dissertations. Truth be told, Anne Carson is a league of her own. Despite the austere and uncompromising description that usually heralds Anne Carson, overshadow her humanistic warmth, engagement, and slant eye for narration and storytelling. The soldering of high classical culture and low common culture, show case her ability to move between tempos with ease. The likeliness of Anne Carson winning the Nobel Prize in the immediate future seems unlikely, as Louise Glück won the award in 2020 and Abdulrazak Gurnah last year, both writing in English. A third English writer winning the award seems unlikely. Despite this speculative barrier, Anne Carson is a thoroughly original writer, whose imaginative and innovative poetics reintroduce the vitality of the classics into the contemporary world, complete with their elopement into popular cultural motifs.
Naja Marie Aidt – Denmark – It’s a testament to a remarkable poet who can shift between both their favoured form of poetry and the common realm of prose. To do it with such masterful ease is even more remarkable. Naja Marie Aidt is one such writer. Though initially beginning her literary career as a poet, Naja Marie Aidt gained further readership through her prose, which secured her foothold in translation. Her groundbreaking short story collection “Baboon,” cemented her reputation as a importantly recognized Nordic writer, when it received the Nordic Council Literature Prize. The acute attention to language and detail is paramount within all of Aidt’s work. This language is akin to cut glass, sparkling and pristine, though not without its sharp edges and cutting perspectives that are multifaceted in their contrary views. “Baboon,” for example is full of surreal and bewildering events that contort to the rhythms of language but also confront the reader with its casual violence, and yet somehow ultimately the work itself moves from the bizarre to audaciously accurate, all the while providing illuminating (if albeit) thought provoking understandings of universal truths. One of Naja Marie Aidt’s recent poetry collections is a chronicle of grief (“When Death Takes Something From You Give It Back,”), recounting the experience of losing her 25-year-old son to a car accident. The collection itself is a raw account of the emotions. A record of the biting absurdities of grief. A testament and treatise to the emotional severance of one’s own being torn asunder. “When Death Takes Something From You Give It Back,” is a fine example of the personal and the universal coinciding. Grief is experience everyone will one day experience in a variety of forms. Naja Marie Aidt’s candid account will not change the experience of grief, but it can become a welcomed companion through it. I suspect in the coming years and decades, Naja Marie Aidt will become a strong contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Her prose is refreshing and linguistically glorious, while her poetry remains piercing and glacially stunning in its craftsmanship.
Ted Kooser – United States of America – With Louise Glück winning the Nobel Prize for Literature two years ago the Swedish Academy provided a redemptive acknowledgement of the United States Poetic Tradition, which has evolved from the primordial independence secured by Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. It is doubtful that another U.S. poet is primed to win the award in the immediate future. Yet, as far as one were to look for another unique contemporary and uniquely American voice in the scope of poetry then Ted Kooser certainly fits the bill. Where some American poets were noted for their postmodern surrealism and intellectual vigor, others for embracing the natural romantic tradition, while others engaged in a profoundly personal confessional exorcism, Ted Kooser composed conversational, approachable, and imagistic poems that herald from the Great Plains of the American Mid-West. The poetic oeuvre of Ted Kooser is often described as the poetry of the everyday, the commonplace, the mundane, observations of the ordinary, written in a poetic style that abandons formalism, experimentation, and ostentatious ornamentation. Sadly, this often means that Ted Kooser is tossed aside and considered narrow in perspective and creates a poetic schtick. A mere cliché of itself. His poems are at times snickered at for having such titles as: “Cosmetic Department,” A Jar of Buttons,” or poetry collections with titles such as: “Splitting an Order,” “Flying at Night,” “Weather Central,” herald from the vocabulary of the mundane and every day. There are no epicist praise. No heroic ballads. No personal strip teases. Instead, Ted Kooser’s poems embrace the everyday and in turn encapsulate and capture the savory beauty which go without notice of acknowledgement. In the hands of Kooser, however, the ordinary takes on a new quality, one that captures both naturalism and realism of life but change the light to provide a subtle understanding of the position and time, and how impermanent and ephemeral it is. Ted Kooser’s poetry is reminiscent of the quintessentially American realism paintings of Edward Hopper, capturing the alienating and dispossession of the everyday within the vastness of the American landscape. In this Ted Kooser’s poetry illuminates the details of the everyday and though it may seem cliché or overtly quintessentially American in its depiction, it maintains a devotion to understanding the realities lived, observed, and understood, whereby they presented within a new light and in a conversational and approachable tone. Kooser’s inventory of the mundane and ordinary life are reminiscent in turn of the poetic cataloguing of Francis Ponge, who recaptured daily objects within his prose poems, providing them renewed mythological wonder and contemplation. Yet in turn, Ted Kooser remains true to form and reality, relaying with imagistic and concise detail the facts of observational life, providing commentary on the personal relationships, the expanse of mid-west landscape and the all-consuming endlessness of the great plains, the emotional resonance of daily life and all its habits, relics, objects, and gestures that make up the day, as well as inclination towards memory, reminiscences, and nostalgia. On another note, the cover art of Ted Kooser’s poetry collections remain remarkable at insinuating the ordinary wonders within the collection. For example, the collection: “Kindest Regards: New & Selected Poems,” showcases a partial street at night beneath the singular glare of a streetlamp. A solitary post box stands on guard neighboring a stop sign. In the background a thick enclave of verdant darkness and bushes grow, while the street is engulfed in a silent stillness. Tucked behind the bushes remains a house tucked in for the night, lights off and windows closed. By constrained lighting and effective use of shadow, the inclination of a narrative, a story, and the overlooked beauty in an otherwise familiar scene take on a different dimension. Such is the poetry of Ted Kooser.
Marilynne Robinson – United States of America – Both Pär Lagerkvist and Shūsaku Endō could be described as writers of moralist character and quality, with their literary concerns being with the consequential nature of existence and the crisis of the human soul pitted between the righteous virtues that enriches the spirit and the vulgar corruptible impulses of the realities of survival. They are writers of complex moralistic narratives be it in parable (Lagerkvist) or historical context (Endō). Marilynne Robinson, however, is not a writer preoccupied with the dichotomous examination of moral certitude as the pathological condition of the human experience. No, Robinson’s literary themes could be described as hope and grace and the continual impermanence and transience of life. Her debut novel, “Housekeeping,” was a success amongst both readers and critics, then Robinson went silent for 24 years, before she began constructing her famous multifaceted Gilead Saga of novels: “Gilead,” “Home,” “Lila,” and “Jack.” Her prose is imbued with a lightness that never betrays the skill or craft. Her sentences are fashioned like bubbles suspended in the light shimmering with translucent pearlescence which delights in its mesmerizing dance and sudden burst, paving the way for another of equal beauty. I’ve always had concerns with Marilynne Robinson. There is something about the notion of ‘Christian writer,’ or writer devoted to the preoccupations of faith and theological understanding of meaning, which provokes preparation and caution for an assault of evangelical proclamations and propagations of damnation. Though faith is a component of Robinson’s work, it is not employed with such invigorated insular vigor to promote condemnation or damnation. Rather questions of faith are spiritual in nature and questioning, being mercurial and kaleidoscopic in the impermanence of its form and ability to transcend the limited contextual understanding of the mortal moment, in this for Robinson faith and grace, are not the trumpet of the end times or the flaming sword of indoctrination, but the understanding and the joys of life to be cherished and enriched within the ideals of democratic institutions and freedom of the individual. Eloquent, understated, and a student of rhetoric (and an excellent practitioner) of all ethos, pathos, and logos (though she is more apt to quote Ralph Waldo Emmerson or Henry David Thoreau or John Calvin). A persuasive essayist, Marilynne Robinson has surveyed and reviewed a wide purview of topics, from the misguided emancipation between faith and reason, to the threat of democratic institutions, the corrosive effects of poverty on the human spirit and psychology, the exclusive dangers of a rising tribalistic attitudes, and the unwavering potential and responsibility of the human capacity for kindness, love, and goodness. The sentences of Marilynne Robinson are the skipping stones racing across the ample surface of the generosity of her intellect and curiosity. Grace is the only word that comes to mind when describing both the literary character and writings of Marilynne Robinson. The prospects of Marilynne Robinson winning the Nobel Prize for Literature seem to be limited, though not impossible.

—In Closing—

The complete list will be posted on Monday August 15th, 2022, I hope to see you return. As for the Nobel Prize for Literature, its truly any writers game, as Abdulrazak Gurnah proved with last years award. There is a Wikipedia article providing unreferenced guide of this year’s award:

The article itself provides an overview of select writers who have been viewed as possible contenders, both in a perennial sense as well as more recent additions.
The writers named in this article are: 

Mircea Cartarescu                      Can Xue                                Cormance McCarthy
Haruki Murakami                       Yan Lianke                            Thomas Pynchon 
Yoko Tawada                              Edna O'Brien                         Mia Couto  
Lyudmila Ulitskaya                    Hilary Mantel                        
Annie Ernaux                             Martin Amis                             
Margaret Atwood                       Michel Houellebecq 
Jon Fosse                                   Colson Whitehead 
Anne Carson                              Edmund white 
Maryse Conde                            Joyce Carol Oates 

In addition to the above listed writers, recent writers brought into contention have been Jamaica Kincaid, who is currently experiencing a revitalized renaissance in her work, with new issues of her previous work being released. Interest in Kincaid has grown steadily over the years when she was mentioned by Swedish journalists and literary critics as a preferential choice after Handke (in 2019) due to her lack of political guffaws and controversy. Though I do think Kincaid is an interesting and very diverse writer, I am not steadily convinced of her appeal to the Swedish Academy, though her views on gardening in relation to colonialism and that historical context is engaging and thought provoking. As for the above-mentioned writers by the Wikipedia article, many can be written off as non-contenders for a variety of reasons, so it is always best practice to take such certain attitudes regarding the Nobel Prize for Literature with a grain of salt and decent dose of suspicion.
As for my forthcoming list Gentle Reader, I make no confidence or assurance that any of the listed writers will receive the award. Though only assurance I can provide is that each of them shares equal opportunity and chance for any if no contention. Only the Swedish Academy knows.
Until August 15th, Gentle Reader.
Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read
M. Mary


  1. Thoroughly fascinating article. Great insights and useful information. Thanks.