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Monday 21 August 2023

Announcement: Nobel Prize in Literature 2023 Speculation List

—Last Year in Review—

Last year's Nobel Prize in Literature laureate was the uncompromising French sociological surveyor and intimate ethnographer, Annie Ernaux. Often described as one of the most ground-breaking and successful practitioners of autofiction, that oxymoronic chimeric literary form which blends autobiography with fiction. Yet autofiction does not quite define Ernaux, it's to specific and therefore to limiting in scope to encapsulate the works of Ernaux. On the one side this intrapersonal chamber music; but also, her ability to branch out into the wider social history and cartography. Ernaux proves herself to be a master of recording private life, but also an accomplished observer of public discourse, and how these two lived spheres are intertwined, becoming overlapping components of the human condition and shared destinies. The Swedish Academy praised Ernaux uncompromising adherence to form, specifically the excavation and examination of her own life, experiences, and those of an intimate orbit, whereby with clinical acuity, Ernaux analyses and studies the subject, providing palpable commentary on class structure, consumerism, language, shame, family power dynamics, aging, consumerism—a kaleidoscope of the social history and living conditions of the human experience through the 20th century into the early 21st century. The intensity of the personal evolving and bleeding into the social structure of the time, which in turn influences and determines the direction and opportunities provided to another based on their social standings. The Swedish Academy—in particular, Anders Olsson—emphasised their praise for Annie Ernaux’s language, which they described as being bleached. An otherwise plain language scalped and scaled clean, free from ostentatious embellishments and the entrapment of sentimentality. Ernaux’s literary language is straightforward and direct, valuing accuracy and concision.

As a Nobel Laureate, Annie Ernaux is almost singular in form and scope. However, comparisons can be made towards fellow laureate Belarussian journalist and historian Svetlana Alexievich, whose works have become the cartography of the soviet and post-soviet experience and soul. While the two differentiate in form and execution, their dedication to an intensely hybrid craft with sociohistorical significance remains their common bedrock. Svetlana Alexievich is the curator and connoisseur of multiple voices, conducting them into a kaleidoscope of complex harmonic account. Each interview, opinion, perspective, recollection, and personal narrative from an individual, is orchestrated and arranged by Alexievich to craft a marvelous symphony recounting some of the most extraordinary events of the last century. Many of which were catastrophic disasters that changed the destiny of the Soviet Union. Through historical events such as the Second World War, the Soviet-Afghan War, and the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster, Svetlana Alexievich provided the human context and narrative to the magnanimity of the historical impact. Where Annie Ernaux operates as a singular multifaceted social scientist, who utilizes her own experiences, observations, and perspectives as the vantage point to trace the progressive evolution of French civil society. This is the main difference between Alexievich and Ernaux. One investigates, interviews, curates, and assembles hundreds of narratives, memories, and testimonies to provide a collective version of history. A tapestry of voices providing the human context to catastrophe and historical gravitas. The other, is the social barometer. A meticulous recordkeeper of intimate details, observations, experiences, and realities, where the greater social changes weave themselves into the private lives. Svetlana Alexievich writes about the collective memory and fallout of disaster and societal change. Annie Ernaux is compulsively Proustian in encapsulating the intrapersonal realities in their relation to social developments and progresses.

Beyond the intrapersonal bleeding into the sociological, Annie Ernaux codifies and captures the ephemeral components of the present, the palpable things of the moment, the insignificant details of the immediacy, which later provide the details to describe daily life of the time. Ernaux’s socio-historical memoirs and clinical analysis show an organic evolution of changing social norms and attitudes, but also the infiltration and complete revolution that mass production and consumerism would achieve not only for the economy, but also daily life, and the individuals lived experience themselves. In this regard, Annie Ernaux resembles the French courtier and prolific correspondent, Madame de Sévigné, whose correspondence provided an intimate and detailed overview of French court life during Louis XIV’s reign. Where the two differentiate is Ernaux’s clinical acuity. Her literary language is bleached of embellishment and ornamentation and retains a distance to herself as subject matter. Where Madame de Sévigné is at turns gossiping and ruminating on the philosophical, even divulging or providing commentary to scandal, Annie Ernaux vivisects with a clinician’s eye, continually seeking to understand, but also to lay the truth bare, deprived of sentimentality.

When Mats Malm the Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy announced Annie Ernaux as the Nobel Laureate in Literature for 2022, there was no sense of surprise, but an agreeable understanding that this was expected. Ernaux was rumoured to be one of the frontrunners in 2021, which took the world aback when it was announced that Abdulrazak Gurnah as the Laureate in Literature instead. Though the surprise and shock did not reverberate like it did in 2021. However, as a laureate Annie Ernaux was not without controversy. Ernaux is unapologetically involved within the excavation of her past, which includes a detailed account of her experiences in soliciting and receiving an illegal back-alley abortion. What follows is a detailed account that is reminiscent of both exhumation of the past and palpable autopsy of the experience. In this clinical account, Annie Ernaux examines both the intrapersonal experience ravaging her younger self, but also social realities and attitudes become influences regarding her decision. Ernaux’s young adulthood pregnancy and subsequent abortion is revealed to be a traumatic catalyst, providing a dangerous acknowledgement, and forewarning regarding the lack of sanction and fortification regarding reproductive rights, especially as the Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe v. Wade. In a larger context Annie Ernaux and her works have come under scrutiny for their inherent political nature, or for purporting the pillars of what have been branded: woke ideals. Writing is a political act, as much as it is personal for Ernaux, that much is clear based on her bibliography. The public sphere and the personal realm are not mutually exclusive. Social structures, scriptures, conventions, and attitudes, in addition to political climates, narratives, ideologies, inevitably influence the personal and intimate spaces of our lives. As Ernaux writes, her pregnancy as an unwed young woman had rippling consequences not just for her but her parents, in addition to the unborn child. The pregnancy and the subsequent abortion and the life-threatening trauma, Ernaux explores not only the personal shame, humiliation, panic and fear, but also the social consequences the pregnancy posed, but also the absolute damning negligence and failure of society in preparing both a young Ernaux and others regarding the dangers, but also in lacking a proper course of prevention and subsequent treatment, beyond the illicit. In turn, however, some of the works of Ernaux have been escalated to enshrine even promote social doctrines, theories, and ideological stances related to the umbrella term ‘woke.’ Annie Ernaux herself has stated that she views writing as a social responsibility and that the Nobel Prize in Literature affirms this; as Ernaux’s Nobel Lecture states with biting certainty: “I will write to avenge my people, j’écrirai pour venger ma race.”

As a writer who has traced the social developments of Post-War France from the initial end of the Second World War into the early 21st century, Annie Eranux does provide an unfiltered criticism towards class divisions of the time. Her parents came from a working-class background and sought to elevate themselves into a respectable middle-class position, running a provincial grocery and café. Ernaux’s own academic aptitude secured her future in turn, including her ability to pursue university studies, and enter the more gentrified professions of the time, which were reserved for the children of those already established. This meager distribution of education as both social division and method of social elevation, as expressed in “The Years,”:

 “Those who failed knew the weight of indignity at an early age. They were not capable. The speeches that praised education cleaned its meager distribution.”

[. . . ]

“If we met a former schoolmate who had enrolled in a commercial school or been sent to apprentice, it wouldn’t occur to us to speak to her, although she’d shared our desk all the way to secondary school. Nor would a notary clerk’s daughter with her fading ski-tan, proof of her superior social rank, so much as glance at us outside of school.” 

Inevitably political discussions and commentary make their way into her work. On another level, however, Annie Ernaux has made far more explicit political comments and placed her support behind controversial political movements and organizations. After being notified of her Nobel laureateship, Annie Ernaux publicly expressed further support for protestors in Iran, protesting the morality police and authoritarian chokehold of the government via religious exercises and doctrine. Furthermore, in the wake of recent protests due to pension reform in France, Ernaux has once again put herself behind supporting protestors, in addition to four female students who alleged that four police officers sexually assaulted them during the protests.

The tint and taint of the political is nothing new to the Nobel Prize in Literature. Numerous laureates have unabashedly maintained or provided their support behind political causes, or endorsed ideologies throughout their careers, while others have thrown their support behind and rescinded later. These writers include but are not limited to: Jean-Paul Sartre (an unapologetic supporter of communism and authoritarian regimes); Nadine Gordimer was an active political activist who employed her literary talents to criticize and protest South Africa’s Apartheid; the late Ōe Kenzaburō was unapologetic in lending or providing commentary and support social or political issues; Elfriede Jelinek is renowned for being a bombshell for her vitriolic political oriented plays and novels, Jelinek didn’t take writing as just seeing the ulcer and poking it, she punched it and laughed; Harold Pinter in turn, gave one of the most politically charged Nobel Lectures in the prizes history, and his later output was known for being politically fixated; then there is Doris Lessing, the contrarian scrutinizer of the last century, who joined and abandoned ideologies and social movements (including being a member of the communist party) with unapologetic regularity, before finally settling as the humanistic critic she was beloved to be. The list could go on, but this provides a snapshot of the political dimensions of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Ernaux much like those before her, is no different, she has obvious and unapologetic allegiance to the left-side of the political spectrum, but does this inherently make her ‘woke,’? I am unfortunately unable to confirm or deny, as I don’t have the knowledge, understanding, or context to arbitrate accordingly. The political criticism issued towards Ernaux (however justified), maintains the political element and tainting nature of politics in the Nobel Prize in Literature are complicated, and despite the Swedish Academy’s best efforts, the accusations of political messaging cannot always be easily dismissed.

Of course, in bygone eras, the Swedish Academy existed in the lofty abodes of its gilded exclusivity and met with the world only occasionally and with reticence. The inner workings and deliberations of the Swedish Academy remained secretive and unknown. Some would call this tact a deliberate curation of mystery and intrigue. Others pompous and arrogance parading as ceremony. Regardless of the view one took, the Swedish Academy always retained its aloof form when confronted with subjects which may compromise them. As an institution the Swedish Academy maintained a strict policy of non-engagement. They refused to publicly engage with any notion of social or political issue, regardless of the optics. The best example of this can be seen during the initial fatwa issued against Salman Rushdie in the 1980s. The Swedish Academy refused to condemn the death threat, until 2015 when it the academy finally condemned the fatwa against Rushdie. During the academy’s existential reckoning, the members of the reticent and regal institution, showed just how petty and human they could be. Public disputes, open criticisms, and clear divisions erupted in the academy. The lofty airs and opaque image the Swedish Academy tirelessly worked to curate and maintain collapsed. Reform became necessary, in order to maintain the academy. Afterwards, a wave of resignations; a couple of deaths; and new inductees, lead the Swedish Academy down the road of reform and renewal. Sadly, along the way, many great members of the academy were also lost, including the gracious, charming, and regal former Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, Sara Danius.

Like a snake shedding its skin, so too has the Swedish Academy, who maintains its traditions and customs, and abides by its famous bylaws and statutes, but has in turn attempted to portray itself as an institution now engaging with the world. Though the Swedish Academy is famous for announcing and awarding the Nobel Prize in Literature, it has a list of obligations, responsibilities, and other awards in which to attend to that are completely independent of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Earlier this year, the Swedish Academy hosted a conference called: Thought and Truth under Pressure. The conference was a discussion regarding the continued threats of public discourse, freedom of speech and expression, as well as democracy. The conference brought together writers, thinkers, and scientists from across the world who grapple with the challenges posed by threats to freedom of thought and expression. Some of writers included in the conference included the ever-fabulous Finnish writer Sofi Oksanen, as well as the Indian writer and political activist, Arundhati Roy. The conference was organized and moderated by Swedish Academy members Ingrid Carlberg and Åsa Wikforss.

Curious fact about these two members. Ingrid Carlberg is a noted Swedish writer and journalist, whose non-fiction spans both investigative journalism as well as extensive biographies, which includes a thoroughly researched biography of the life and work of Alfred Nobel, and the prizes he created. In an increasingly polarizing world, journalists have become both a political enemy and a public enemy. Their profession no longer venerated or viewed as an essential service, but with skepticism and distrust. Journalists are no longer exclusively threatened in authoritarian governments but grow increasingly under attack in democracies where populist mentalities take hold, and truth becomes a subject open for debate and defacement. Åsa Wikforss in turn is a philosopher, whose philosophical articles, lectures, and essays are both incisive and popular, as they describe the intersection between philosophy, language, and cognitive studies. Her recent areas of study include a survey of the rising dissemination of disinformation, falsities, and a failure in critical thinking and facilitation of outright lies be treated in the same vein as unimpeachable truths. It should come to no surprise, why these two academy members are so intrigued and interested in wading into the discussion regarding freedom of speech and expression, and the age-old methods and modes of censorship, constraint, and limitations are being applied to these basic and innate human liberties and freedoms: the very foundation of democratic values and enlightenment perspectives.

In the past, the Swedish Academy would have avoided such topics or have been more hesitant to get involved with the subject matter, as it operated under the guise and implied understanding that it was ‘above,’ such mortal or earthly concerns. Now flooded with new members in the post-scandal wake, the attitudes and inclinations of the Swedish Academy have also shifted. In this instance, it can be described as a step in a more appropriate direction. This newfound engagement enshrines the academy as an institution of working intellectual merit, not just concerned with being the gilded rubber stamp of approval. Next year in turn, the Swedish Academy, will be operating at full member capacity with the election of two new members, who will be inducted this December. Of course, in order for the academy to operate in its complete capacity, this would be mean no members resign or dies in the immediate future.

—Representation: A Double-Edged Sword—

The Swedish Academy and the Nobel Prize in Literature is never short of facing criticism. A usual criticism leveraged against the institution and the prize is the fact that many great and longstanding classical writers were never acknowledged with the award. Those lists grow year by year, and in some instances have become alternative lists of who others think should have won the Nobel Prize in Literature, rather than the actual laureate. For example, one list preferred Mishima Yukio to Kawabata Yasunari, and Jorge Luis Borges to Miguel Ángel Asturias, are two prime examples. Leo Tolstoy and James Joyce are always featured prominently on this alternative list, in those neglected formative years of the prize's history. The Nobel Prizes in total have been around for over a hundred years. While some prizes have been able to shrug off criticism—if any—due to their evidence based and empirical judging criteria; other awards such as the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Peace Prize, are renowned for having tripped over themselves in a variety of guffaws, blunders, errors, and unapologetic and obstinate mistakes. This is an inevitability with any literary prize. Why they awarded this writer; why haven't the awarded that writer; who the fuck is that—very regular questions. The only difference is with the Nobel Prize in Literature, due to its age, the pomp and ceremony, and tradition of secrecy, the questions are amplified. With other literary awards, the judge's deliberations are semi-transparent. A longlist is drafted and released, followed by a shortlist, and then eventually the winner is announced. In the case of the Swedish Academy, the entire process is secretive. Nominations are designated as confidential in nature and remain a secret for 50 years, as outlined in Alfred Nobel's will, the otherwise foundational constitution of the Nobel Prizes, guiding the measures for prize adjudication. In turn, the Swedish Academy courts, orchestrates, and conducts the level of outrage and questions that both surrounds itself and the prize. The academy itself remains strictly impenetrable. Meetings are held under the strictest and most confidential of circumstances. Leaks are rare, and if they do happen, suspicion is immediately leveraged against them, discrediting them. When a decision has been reached and the announcement made, the world reacts between congratulations and outrage. All the while the Swedish Academy through indifference and good old Scandinavian stoicism remains disinterested; or behind closed doors, giggles and laughs amongst themselves over the controversy. In all (with but a few exceptions), the Swedish Academy knows how to provoke a conversation.

Over the past decades, representation has become an increasingly contentious issue and point of concern. Organizations have created internal organizational committees, drafted policies, and hired directors and corporate officers whose singular vision and goal is to promote diversity and representation within the organization. The Swedish Academy has routinely been criticized for its lack of subscription and endorsement of representation. This criticism is multifaceted in form. A continual venomous hydra, which backs the Swedish Academy into a no-win situation at every turn.

As a literary prize which prides itself on taking an international or global perspective in literature, the Swedish Academy is routinely charged with being narrow minded, Eurocentric, and limited in applying this alleged holistic global perspective. By default, this is bound to happen. The 18-member academy of Swedish intellectuals and scholars cannot possibly know every language in the world and be expected to provide a merited critical analysis of the writers working within those languages. It's not humanly possible. It's not realistic. Though the Swedish Academy and the Nobel Prize in Literature attempts to take a far-reaching grasp of literature and embrace all writers and works of literature within a globalized impartial lens, it cannot. By design it is doomed for failure. The concept overshoots and the academy is unable to meet those lofty expectations. Of course, in order for the Swedish Academy to mitigate this issue, they solicit advice from external experts to read and summarize potential candidates for further consideration. This is valuable information, advice, and input that the academy itself cannot provide; though critics and detractors will argue that these experts and summaries do little to nothing to mitigate or change the Swedish Academy's track record of underwhelming representation, it’s a better solution then nothing. As in all fairness, the Swedish Academy does not have any metric or ledger or quotas to meet beyond those set internally, which are also kept under lock and key. Any external expectations of which geographic region, language, specific country, or literary form that needs to be recognized, are purely external. Combing through the list of recent Nobel Laureates, the last South American writer to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature was Mario Vargas Llosa in 2010. Since then, some of the greatest writers of Mexican literature have died, including Carlos Fuentes and Sergio Pitol. Going back further, the last Spanish writer (from Spain) to receive the award was Camilo Jose Cela in 1989, since then one of the greatest Spanish writers of this generation died, Javier Marias. In 1979 Odysseas Elytis became the last Greek writer to receive the Nobel Prize. Over a hundred years ago now in 1913, Rabindranath Tagore, became the first Asian and Bengali language writer to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. Yet, in spite of all external speculation and score keeping, the Swedish Academy remains indifferent to these concerns and external preoccupations, by sticking to the same talking points: we award great literature. Everything else is white noise.

It may be easy to dismiss geographical, language, and literary form, with a pass of the hand. The Swedish Academy cannot so easily dodge or denounce the criticism regarding the lack of women writers who have received the Nobel Prize in Literature. Since the first Nobel Prizes were announced and awarded in 1901 and with only a few years when the prize was not awarded, 1914, 1918, 1935, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, only 17 women have won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Throughout the prizes awarding history, there are decades of drought and exclusion, with no woman writer being awarded. For example, there was a 21-year gap between Gabriela Mistral 1945 and Nelly Sachs in 1966; and a further 25-year gap between Nelly Sachs in 1966 and Nadine Gordimer in 1991. Since the 1990's there has been an increase of female writers being awarded. Shortly after Gordimer took the prize in 1991, Toni Morrison won in 1993, and three years later the Mozart of world poetry, Wisława Szymborska, took the prize. In the following decades, the Swedish Academy took a more expedited view in awarding women writers with greater frequency, then it did in the previous century, with a cumulative average of 8 female writers being awarded. A staunch contrast to the 9 who were scattered throughout the 20th century like flotsam. Since 2018 the Swedish Academy has rotated in awarding a female writer and a male writer as can be seen in the following pattern:

2018 – Olga Tokarczuk
2019 – Peter Handke
2020 – Louise Glück
2021 – Abdulrazak Gurnah
2022 – Annie Ernaux

When it comes to the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Swedish Academy, this pattern over the last five laureates should not be taken as an engrained ruling that all alternating years the prize will be awarded to a male writer and female writer. On an otherwise high level, the Swedish Academy will argue that the laureates were chosen by the criteria set out in Alfred Nobel's will and once again by assessing the chosen laureate against the shortlist and coming to some compromised consensus of who the best writer would be on literary terms; the fact that it happened to alternate between a male and female writer is merely happenstance. This does beg the question though: after awarding Annie Ernaux in 2022, will the Swedish Academy continue an informal convention and award another male writer, or, will the Swedish Academy award another female writer? At no point in its 122-year history has the Nobel Prize in Literature been awarded to two women consecutively.

There can be no denying that the world has grown increasingly hyper-partisan and polarized in continued divisions and fractions based on identity politics. The world has become increasingly tribalistic in compartmentalizing every feature of an individual, society and culture, to the point segregation has found itself a second wind, if not in name but in application. Unfortunately, the Swedish Academy's ability to rise above these otherwise petty predilections is no longer as secure as it was before the 2018 scandal. Though no member of the Swedish Academy committed any sexual assault, the rapes committed by a former academy members husband prove to be a catalyst that ruptured and halted the Swedish Academy. The once gold gilded secretive group of 18 swedes fell spectacularly, and the academy reformed and in the wake of an exodus of members, followed by a few more deaths of previous members, the academy has been completely reshaped with an injection of youth, new ideas, and new perspectives. A continued point of contention, however, is the lack of female laureates for the Nobel Prize in Literature. This leads to the unfortunate situation this year: will the Swedish Academy award another woman writer? Sadly, the Swedish Academy has painted themselves into quite the blue cabinet here (as in Skita i det blå skåpet). In this situation it is more difficult for the Swedish Academy to denounce criticism with a flint of the hand and saying: we are only concerned about exceptional literature; as this poses a problem, is the Swedish Academy insinuating that women writers do not produce exceptional literature? And so, begins the tailspin of rhetoric going nowhere. Does the Swedish Academy think that women writers are not exceptional? I don't believe that. All of the women writers the Swedish Academy has awarded are of high caliber and exceptional quality (well, perhaps not Pearl Buck, whose literary quality rests on the shoulders of her humanistic principles). Gabriela Mistral in turn is experiencing a renewed interest and renaissance in her work. The stern school matron looking poet, has recently eclipsed Neruda as a favourite poet amongst young Chilean readers. Even the most controversial female Nobel Laureate, Elfriede Jelinek, is one of the worthiest writers, though in part and parcel because of the complexities and intricacies of her literary language. Jelinek's ability to channel, transform and transmit the everyday language as it shapes an individual's existential being. This makes Jelinek a very challenging writer to translate. Of course, her work is unapologetically provocative, transgressive, political, and socially critical, but also deliriously ironic and humorous. Regardless of how one describes Elfriede Jelinek, be it red pornographer or moral provocateur, Jelinek continues to be an amusing instigator and agitator.

The Swedish Academy will continually be faced with this dilemma moving forward. Will they award two female writers consecutively? And then, when the Swedish Academy finally crosses that bridge the poor writer chosen will be engulfed in the optics of representation, gender equality, the politics of gender, and all the conversations will concern their gender, not their work. That laureate and their work, will be eclipsed in the confines of the narrative being formed around their gender and the Swedish Academy 'righting a wrong,' and 'bridging the gender gap of the Nobel Prizes.' This is the complicated problem with the notion of representation, this otherwise myopic and non-literary matter sucks up all the oxygen. The laureate in turn is no longer provided with the opportunity to discuss their work, or more pressing matters; instead, they will be bombarded with questions regarding their stances on issues that may be of little to no concern. The history books in turn will graze over their literary output and instead focus on the fact that the laureate was the first time in the prizes history that the Swedish Academy decided to award two female writers in a row. This otherwise non-issue has become an amplified concern, perhaps forcing the Swedish Academy to delay, or put off awarding another female writer one after another, to avoid this controversy. The problem will continue to persist, however. It is no longer a question of if the Swedish Academy will award two female writers in a row, but a matter of when. Hopefully then the fixation and discussion will be about the writer's work, their themes, their preoccupations. Not their gender.

—Three French Writers—

In receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature last year, Annie Ernaux became the third French language writer to receive the prize in past 14 years. Her fellow countrymen and Nobel Laureates, Patrick Modiano and J.M.G Le Clezio, are still alive in turn. These three writers could not be any more different in thematic occupation and writing style.

Of the three writers, J.M.G Le Clézio, remains the most obscure, due in large part because of a lack of both interest and translation. When Le Clézio was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2008, English language media reacted with their usual ceremonious indignant chorus of: "Who!?" Of course, the then Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, the stately and steely indifferent Horace Engdahl, did not help matters when pressed on the issue of what was then being perceived as deliberate snubs of American writers, when he mistakenly said that American publishing and the literary scene was not engaged enough in the dialogue of world literature via translations, and instead resigned itself to an insular position. This overshadowed J.M.G Le Clézio, who remains neglected in English language publications. Perhaps in part, because his Nobel Prize in Literature sparked a tantrum between the Swedish Academy and the American literati.

J.M.G Le Clézio became the first French writer to take the Nobel Prize in Literature in 23 years, the last one being the late modernist, Claude Simon in 1985. In his early writing career, Le Clézio was an early adoptee and practitioner of the French literary movement Nouveau roman (New Novel), whose most well-known associated writers included Alaine Robbe-Grillet, Nathalie Sarraute, Michel Butor, and Marguerite Duras. This avant-garde movement rejected all conventional and traditional literary tropes, such as linear chronology, plot, character, and the omnipresent character, and instead embraced new forms, styles, and methods of narration. Le Clézio's debut novel "The Interrogation," could be described as a quintessential Nouveau roman novel, as it traces a disenfranchised and troubled young man, who shifts between lunacy and sanctified delirium in his introspective ravings, brought on by a continued self-imposed exiled, which inevitably means the world becomes increasingly more difficult to contextualize in both his experiences and observations, while embraces the absurdity of existence in true Camus fashion, and waltz's around the modern emptiness of society. Truly the question of lunatic or saviour, is the dichotomous pluralities of the narrator's existence. "The Interrogation," is rich in texture and ideas of the late mid-century modern, capitalizing the postwar divide between prosperity and desolation, while embracing the atmosphere of the 60's. Subsequent novels were equally highly experimental in nature, exploring both the boundaries and possibilities of the novel; but showcasing a particular interest in describing and transmitting physical sensations as they impact and influence both personal and existential experiences. The experimental years for J.M.G Le Clézio were a flirt with the flimsy literary fashions of the day, which were ultimately abandoned as he moved to what is considered his more mature work.

Beginning in 1980 with his novel ''Desert," J.M.G Le Clézio abandoned the formal experimentation perpetrated by the Nouveau roman movement, and started writing fiction, which is aptly described as poetic, adventurous, flowing in prose that is neither complicated or difficult, but also at times, lacking in momentum or narrative. To read Le Clézio's more mature output is to be lapped and lulled by an unwavering and sensual literary language. I've often compared Le Clézio's literary language to that of an undisturbed river at the height of summer, calm and without rapids, refreshing and enduring that will carry you as a stowaway adrift to unchartered destinations. I recall when I first began to read "Desert," an apprehension as descriptions of the desert and travels continued, I thought I had picked the most dreadful dud of a novel. Thankfully those early impressions were wrong, as the novel unfurls slowly, J.M.G Le Clézio proves that the Swedish Academy was not just huffing glue when they came up with his citation:

"Author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization."

Yet I think the finest examples of J.M.G Le Clézio work can be found in the novella "Lullaby," which is full of charming calls of youth, the demands for freedom, the casual commitment to truancy, the independence of exploration, and the thirst for liberty. "Lullaby," is full of light and adventure. Atmosphere is something Le Clézio can conjure and curate, spurring on a sense of adventure, which is equally reflected in the short story: " Mountain of the Living God," the spirit and adventure driving the young narrator to the peak of the mountain, where they are greeted by an apparition who resides on top of it. In the short story collection, "The Round and Other Cold Hard Facts," moves away from the idyll and adventurous spirit and provides an overview of the corrupting force of industrialization and modernization on the world epitomized in the sun bleached and sparkling concrete car park where a biker gang sexually assaults a woman. Yet in the short story, " Villa Aurora," a childhood neighborhood lost in the wake of urban development and progress finds an oasis preserved by an old woman and her resolute home called: Villa Aurora. It’s a wonderful short story that encapsulates both the bittersweet sting of nostalgia and lost childhoods.

The loss of innocence is familiar territory for Patrick Modiano, who has written an elaborate symphony of novels that explore the recesses of memory, the abyss, amnesia, unexplained loss, expressionless absences, in a world of sepia and grisaille tones, populated with dubious characters, underqualified detectives, amateur sleuths, abandoned children, drifting aimless youth, and mysterious woman, who are both tragic and immaterial, who exist within the moment in veil vaporous distance, and then etched forever into yearning memory. Each novel is an independent piece of chamber music, intimate and self-contained; each one echoes and haunts the other. Paris becomes a character unto itself, with the works of Modiano. In a fashion similar to Orhan Pamuk's Istanbul, Modiano's Paris is routinely categorized and characterized. It’s a city quick to rejuvenate and replace, which complicates the scavenging and scouring of Modiano's character, who trace the streets of their memory, only to find that version of Paris refashioned, remediated, or demolished.

Memory is an eternal theme. Marcel Proust and his monumental classic novel "In Search of Lost Time," display memory as a vast ocean, one which will involuntarily pull you beneath its current, and in the submersion, you are lost in the gilded golden world of memory. Such a bittersweet garden. One of dainty petunias and regal roses, but amongst the thicket thorns stick out with pointed glee. The garden is of course awash in a perfume of spring's flowers and summer's ripening. In the case of Patrick Modiano, memories are more autumnal in atmosphere and glow, fermented in mildew, dust, and aether. In the case of Patrick Modiano, memory is an obsession, an eternal compulsion to search, to seek, to identify, organize and piece together the ambient mysteries of the past.

Guy Roland from "Missing Person," is the stock Modiano character, an amnesiac private detective, who embarks on a quest to find and retrieve his identity, having lived in a state of anonymity for the past ten years. Throughout his investigation, Guy Roland is able to piece together some notion of who he was, but complications abound during the Second World War and under the Occupation. A Greek-Jew, Guy assumed a new name and identity while living in Occupied Paris, working as a low-level employee at the Dominican Republic Embassy. The Occupation hangs over the novel like a leaden overcast sky, many of Guy Roland's associates and friends flee the French capital because they are considered enemies of the state. Knowing he lives on borrowed time as a Jew in Occupied Paris, this former incarnation arranges to escape France into the neutral sanctuary of Switzerland. This attempt at refuge and freedom becomes the catalyst of the novel. The event obliterates Roland's memory and robs him of his identity. Throughout his search, Guy Roland inches ever closer to finding some tangible piece of identity, a raft, a piece of driftwood to reclaim as his own, but in usual Modiano fashion, the trail ends in ruin and in dust.

In a fashion similar to J.M.G Le Clézio, Patrick Modiano is a master custodian of atmosphere. Where, Le Clézio breathed in a sense of expansive refreshing adventure and ecstasy; Modiano paints an afterimage of claustrophobia, ellipses, and a brooding sense of unease; a cultivation of transience; a questionable sense of perceptibility continually remains, as if Modiano's characters are transparent, fading into impermanence, their existence on the verge of being questionable, as referenced in "Out of the Dark,":

"Nothing in the room was out of place. The beds were made. No suitcases. No clothes. Only a large alarm clock, sitting on one of the nightstands. And despite that alarm clock, it seemed as though they were living here in secret, trying to leave no sign of their presence."

Patrick Modiano is a masterful writer of half strokes and incompleteness. His novels continually explore the negative space as the natural format of the novel. In a fashion similar to J.M.G Le Clézio, whose Nobel was met with a resounding and offended reactionary: "who?" Modiano's obscurity became an apologetic selling point. Even the then Permanent Secretary Peter Englund, conceded that Modiano's renown beyond the French language was very limited; but rather than being sentenced to back shelf oblivion like J.M.G Le Clézio, Patrick Modiano was translated with a blitzkrieg frenzy. To date, Patrick Modiano's remains a welcomed surprise, proving that the Nobel Prize in Literature provides that rare golden lift to writers who are great but still unknown.

All three French Nobel Laureates in Literature are vastly different and independent from one another. Their writings are singular in scale, scope, theme, and preoccupation. Annie Ernaux, the most recent French Nobel Laureate is no exception. Of the three, Ernaux is perhaps the most dissenting in form and preoccupation. Renowned for her unwavering, unflinching, and uncompromising brutalist autobiographical examinations within a larger sociohistorical context, Annie Ernaux, maintains a strict adherence to a personal writing philosophy that writing is a social responsibility. By performing personal and societal autopsies, Ernaux examines both her own past and experiences with clinical acuity, while measuring and referencing the social evolutions of French throughout the 20th century and into the early 21st century. Where Le Clezio wrote with a sense of ecological adventure and anthropological curiosity; Modiano investigated the obsolescence of the eternal questions regarding time, memory and absence; Ernaux takes an intensely intrapersonal perspective grounding her social studies and examinations, in turn becoming a barometer and reader of a century expedited progress and change, which saw the working class begin a steady elevation in social standings. In this regard, Ernaux models the words of the French poet Arthur Rimbaud: "I have always belonged to an inferior race," but where Rimbaud sought to transfigure reality through poetry and lyricism; Ernaux is more rehabilitative in her pursuit, writing with blunt honesty the realities of such a life, all the while pursuing to remediate historical injustices, by giving voice, character, a sense of self-hood of these otherwise lower social classes.

"The Years," is Annie Ernaux's masterpiece. A plural memoir narrated by a chorus 'we,' or a third person 'She,' – "The Years," recounts the space and time of end of the Second World War into the early 2000's, punctuated with time stamps of events and movements that reshaped and revolutionized French society, both in the private life and the public at large. The morning-after-pill becomes a liberating game changer; the suffocating and endless stream of consumerism and mass marketing. French society moves from tepid conservativism to unabashed liberty at breakneck speeds. Contrary images quickly form, such as De Gaulle, the formidable legend and hero of the French Resistance and father of Post-War France, is now exhausted, weakened and aged during the 1960's, as student protests that shut the country down. The youth then, so full of ideas and free thinking, were absolute in their demands and prepared to take affirmative action to achieve these goals. Ernaux's pride in their spirit is unquestioning, while her disappointment in the abandonment of those same ideals later, reassuring. The private, intimate, public, social and political are not mutually exclusive, as Ernaux exhumes and examines them with clinical scrutiny.

In turn, supermarkets become a bell jar of observation and study. Rather than placing herself in the exterior, removing herself from the events taking place, Ernaux unapologetically tours the inner confines, observing the subject matter with intimate curiosity. By strolling through the aisles of essentials and non-essentials, past discounts, marked down items, Ernaux becomes the spectator and witness to the unscripted and impromptu theatre of life. Each customer and employee become an actor within this self-contained universe of everyday drama. In these otherwise ubiquitous places and moments of life, Ernaux deciphers and discerns the changes in the social fabric. As Mrs. Dalloway herself had said and concluded that she would buy the flowers herself, so too has Annie Ernaux, who concludes meaning can be achieved through the otherwise neglected spaces of the commonplace and mundane. The spectacle of banality conceals an ocean of complexities, personal narratives, existential tragedies, and the unacknowledged social architectures of daily life.

All three writers are exceptional in form and craft. Despite their predestined differences in literary preoccupations and themes. J.M.G Le Clézio's sense of nomadic internationalism, studying the cultures, traditions, and peoples who exist outside of the modern purview. Patrick Modiano's provincial and existential investigations regarding the subjectivity of memory as it contrasts with acceptable historical accounts, the complexities of identity both inherited and fabricated. Annie Ernaux, whose social studies of societal progress, quiet revolutions, and personal ethnographic exhumation in relation to the ever-transient sociopolitical times. Each of these marvelous writers, affirms that world literature has never been more refreshing before. If the current production of English language literature is stagnant, solipsistic, and flooded with publications which should be described as vanity projects, one need only find a refreshing air in the works of translated literature. French literature in particular, it seems, has a particular blend of variety.

—Four Nonagrian Poets—

Lina Kostenko – Ukraine – To reference the poet as soul of the nation is both blessing and curse. On one hand, it’s the praise and appreciation of a nation to its poet, burdening with herculean strength and atlas like shoulders, the spirit and cultural identity of a state. Some writers accept the laurels, the ceremony, the honours with no fuss. Others, however, refuse any to all attempts of endowment of any political endorsement. Lina Kostenko, arguably falls into the later category, who outwardly refuses any political association and commendation, all the while ironically being endeared, loved, and respected by the citizens of the Ukraine. At 93 years old, Lina Kostenko remains a spitfire and uncompromising poet of the highest lyrical order. A legend in Ukraine, Kostenko refuses to bend or wave in the face of political pressure, be it by invading for forces or a call to nationalistic celebration. Lina Kostenko understands the perversion and corrosive nature of politics when it enters the realm of the literary. Suddenly the soul and spirit are replaced with the fanaticism of a baptized mad dog spewing demagoguery with a propagandist's industrial efficiency. The Soviet Union like any authoritarian regime understood the power and importance of messaging and information. Writers such as Maxim Gorky and Mikhail Sholokhov, were literary assets for the Soviet Unions identity. Gorky as the gulag apologist and founder of socialist realism, and Sholokhov being nothing more then a talentless hack who embodied the propaganda perspectives prescribed by the Soviet Union. These literary works seek to provide an image of reality contrary to the truth; the imagined splendor and prosperity juxtaposed against the reality of squander and poverty. In the amalgamated discomfort of the Soviet brand, how do specific nations, cultures and people retain their own sense of self? Their own nationhood? A member of the Sixties Generation, Lina Kostenko is credited for reviving and preserving the tradition of Ukrainian lyrical poetry and celebrating the intrinsic beauty of the Ukrainian language. Kostenko rebuked the stagnant socialist realism expected of writers in the Eastern Bloc. Instead Kostenko crafted poetry that is full of aphorism, lyricism, satire, and a keen sense of criticism leveraged towards authoritarian government stances. Inevitably, Lina Kostenko was considered subversive and apolitical and blacklisted from publishing. Through underground publications and in more laxed censored countries of the Iron Curtain (Poland and the former Czechoslovakia), Kostenko's poetry continued to be consumed in the small dosages available; though during this time she had affirmed herself to writing what she described as "in the drawer." Throughout the Soviet Era, Lina Kostenko remained a stalwart dissident. By the late 1970's and into the 80's, Kostenko published further poetry and her famous historical novel in verse "Marusia Churai," about the titular mythic baroque composer, poet, and folksinger. As a poet, Lina Kostenko sought to restore and once again establish a sense of heritage, history, identity, and consciousness for Ukraine. Kostenko's poetry is lyrical, dramatic, and engrossing, capturing both tragedy and horror, but also preserving love, which in spite of the obstacles, persists and overcomes. Lina Kostenko is a significant Ukrainian poet, but her work has regained its relevancy for reminding all individuals of the perils of authoritarian hubris as it threatens once again peace, independence, and democracy. As the world now finds itself settling into a state of continued polarization, poets such as Lina Kostenko prove to be resolute reminders of the basic principles of what it means to be free and independent. On a side note: Lina Kostenko has been nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature before (in 1967), it is also safe to assume she has been nominated again in the following decades.

Adunis – Syria [Exile France] – The Swedish Academy curates an enigmatic sense of self. In their current incarnation this small group of literary intellectuals remain obtuse and indefinable in their workings. In years past their public events were warm and generous, but gracious and polite. There was never any inclination or insinuation of the workings behind the doors. Now, their public events are more scripted and structured. Gone is the palpability and buzzing excitement. All that remains is a dry lecture and a unceremonious and lifeless question and answer. As the archives are gradually unveiled and the Swedish Academy shows continued progress in ironing out the notions of their responsibility and how the award is to be framed within the ambiguities of Alfred Nobel's will, they come into a period of maturation as an institution. The recordings of their meetings—regardless of their insight and tedium—reveal an institution and academy that in turn can be churlish and dismissive in their deliberations. Robert Graves was dismissed due to his advanced age as well as the fact that he was a poet, and some members of the academy held the opinion that no English language poet could be comparable to Ezra Pound. Pund wasn't awarded for obvious returns. In turn, W.H. Auden has now been rendered and confirmed as a perennial Nobel Prize bridesmaid, dismissed because of his advanced aged and because his best work was behind him. They of course join a growing list of authors who were systemically dismissed or denied the Nobel Prize in Literature on otherwise flimsy grounds. The Syrian poet Adunis is under threat of facing a similar fate. There can be no denying that Adunis is one of the most influential and important poets at work in the world. A revolutionary force, Adunis is renowned for changing the course of Arabic language poetry over the 20th Century, introducing modernist elements and global influences into the old and ancient traditions of Arabic literature, which is renowned for having a strong devotion and appreciation for its poetry. Adunis is considered one of the most important poets of his generation, but also historically a remarkable poet, whose verse transcends borders, languages, and creed, capturing the majesty of the human condition by ruminating on themes concerning identity, memory, and exile. These are themes which have often been singled out and recognized by the Swedish Academy in previous laureates. Yet, why is the Swedish Academy so reluctant and hesitant to award Adunis? Only the academy knows currently. I doubt they can argue that Adunis has not been nominated enough, as it's been an open secret that for the past 30 years that the poet has been routinely nominated. Yet, in the instance of Tomas Tranströmer, who was awarded in a time that was considered now or never; time is not on Adunis's side, who is now 93, every year is considered a now or never moment. Sadly, the Swedish Academy has chosen the stance of never, and in the process once again cutting its nose off in spite of its face. Regardless of whether or not Adunis receives the Nobel Prize in Literature, his international reputation and legacy have already been cemented.

Ida Vitale – Uruguay – There is something to be said about the Cervantes Prize. Pettishly nicknamed 'the Spanish Nobel,' this literary awards mandate is to recognize great Spanish language writers currently living and working. A relatively new award (founded in 1975 and the first award in 1976) the Cervantes Prize has honoured its mandate, recognizing great Spanish language writers across the globe. Many of these esteemed writers have become institutions and calcified in greatness, who also happen to share their Cervantes Prize with the Nobel: Octavio Paz, Mario Vargas Llosa, Camilo Jose Cela. While other winners were often speculated to be a future Laureate in their own right: Carlos Fuentes, Sergio Pitol, Nicanor Parra. Then there are others, who have won the Cervantes Prize for their legendary albeit quiet passions, their work spoken of in revered whispers: Dulce María Loynaz. The Uruguayan poet, Ida Vitale is in this final category, a poet dedicated to crystalline poetry, which celebrates the enrapturing marvels of life through a varied spectrum. When awarding Vitale, the Cervantes Prize, the judges celebrated her accessibility, sense of transparency, and intellectual integrity. In a fashion similar to the Great Dame of Cuban Poetry, Dulce María Loynaz, politics played a part in Ida Vitale's literary accomplishments. Where Loynaz fortified herself in internal exile after the Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro seized control; Ida Vitale went into exile abroad, after a military coup and junta took control in Uruguay. She is the last member of the influential Generation 45, but she is a remarkable poet, who finds inspiration, hope, and thrilling joy in the everyday. This permeating wonder and joy with life are the components that I find so endearing of Vitale's literary output. In addition to accessibility, the intellectual grace of Vitale's poetry is equally masterful, a wealth of curious explorations, findings. A poet of refined sensibilities who refused to fall into the entrapment of pretentious notions. Where other poets of less caliber and talent, fling into the up-winds and drafts, Ida Vitale remains persistently solid in her pursuits, finding bewilderment, wonder, and beauty without flying arrogantly to close to the sun, or worst getting hung up on the electrical cables or wires. The humanistic vitality of Ida Vitale is contagious, she serenades the joys of summer; expresses gratitude and joy for the alphabet, the requirement for language; all the while wondering at what point does human perception inflect our relationship to history, manifest our destiny, and influent social and political change and constructs? At 99 years old Ida Vitale is only starting to gain recognition and appreciation in the English language, yet for years and decades Ida Vitale has been the most unpretentious and important poet of the Spanish language. Much like Adunis, Ida Vitale is legendary as a poet, who will endure in literary contributions will endure.

Tanikawa Shuntarō – Japan – The 20th Century saw Japan truly blossom from its previous isolationist foreign policies into an independent world leader, not only economically and politically, but growing in cultural importance, with many Japanese writers being read in international circles. Postwar Japanese literature continued to reincarnate itself after the Second World War. With the island nation scarred by bombings, two cities obliterated by the atomic bombings, and a populace war worn and weary, but also humiliated by their international defeat and their god-emperor pulling back the curtain of their divinity revealing an all too mortal man. Some Japanese writers wrote in the wake of postwar Japanese society with a sense of displacement and growing nihilism. Others wrote of social and psychosexual rebellion as they probed the existential questions of postwar society. Tanikawa Shuntarō became a poet of glimmering hope. Though not entirely spared witnessing the entire onslaught and destruction of the Second World War, Tanikawa was still a child and a student throughout the war years, which ultimately provided him the freedom to write without the constraints of a prewar notion and postwar desolation. Instead, Tanikawa carved out a literary path that coincided with the revival of the nation's sociopolitical democratization and economic recovery. Rather than drown in an endless wallow of pity and defeat, writing lamenting and elegiac poems of stolen greatness and ashen ruin; Tanikawa Shuntarō wrote with a sense of optimistic hope, inspiring and reinvigorating a literary trajectory that looked forward and ahead, rather than what had been. Just as T.S. directed pushed English language poetry into a new modernist direction, and Adunis revolutionized Arabic language poetry with new forms, thoughts and ideas, so too has Tanikawa Shuntarō who has embraced a variety of poetic forms (free verse, prose poem, haiku, narrative, lyrical et cetera) that has endeared Tanikawa Shuntarō to literary critics and the reading public. By changing the course of Japanese poetry, veering into new forms and expressions, Tanikawa was able to reignite the literary experimentation and duality of Japanese traditions with western influences of the early 20th Century, and continue the evolution of Japanese literature. Some of the greatest poets who have won the Nobel Prize in Literature have been able to reconcile an ever-endearing wonder for the world in all its mundane magnanimity while contemplating the more erudite philosophical questions of the human condition, memory, purpose and history; the best of these poets is able to do it in a form that is accessible and generous. Tanikawa Shuntarō is that kind of poet, one whose form, preoccupations, style, and contemplation is accessible, generous, sophisticated and an absolute pleasure to read. Tanikawa Shuntarō nurtured a new literary perspective in Japanese literature, one that abandoned the wounds, shame, and dishonour of the previous postwar perspective and infused literature with the steely resilience to face the future, but embrace it. Despite being in his early nineties now, Tanikawa Shuntarō continues to produce poetry with the same high caliber merit which has become an expectation of his readership. In addition to being an accomplished and magnificent poet with a global and international grasp, Tanikawa is a translator of such works including the Peanuts comic strips into Japanese as well as children's classic Mother Goose rhymes.


Oh, Gentle Reader, I am do apologize for running late this year on the Nobel Speculation. Sadly though, this is also my last Nobel Speculation list in which I will draft and publish. That does not mean that I am done speculating or writing about the Nobel Prize in Literature, but due to external factors, I can no longer support drafting and writing a lengthy list of writers each year. It is a very time-consuming task, and the older I get the more finite time becomes; therefore, allowances must be made and some accountancy and austerity measures need to be exercised. With that being said, this year's list is intended to smaller than previous years with the following stats:

Africa – 11 Writers – 1 New Writer
North Africa & the Middle East – 12 Writers – 1 New Writer
Europe – 34 Writer – 6 New Writers
Asia & the Indo-Subcontinent – 10 Writers – 1 New Writer
South America & Latin America, with the Caribbean – 6 Writers 
Australia & Oceania - 1 Writer 

          For a Total of 74 Writers
Please know Gentle Reader, I have enjoyed writing the Nobel Prize in Literature speculation list and engaging in conversation hearing more recommendations, and learning about so many new and great writers has been an absolute pleasure. Unfortunately, time is slipping away and I would rather engage with the Nobel Prize in Literature, in a new more streamlined format. At this time, I am hesitant to commit to saying when the speculation list will be released on a set date, but the goal is to have it ready for publication for this Friday, August 25. Please be aware life may get in the way and publication may be delayed.

Thank you for everything Gentle Readers, truly. It's been an absolute pleasure, and will continue to be, as we move forward. As for this years Nobel Prize in Literature speculation list, it's been crafted and curated by my own interests and indulgences. Whether or not a writer has the opportunity to receive the award or not is irrelevant. I'm far more interested in discussing and learning about new writers, and reading about them. Besides, betting and gambling with any certainty on the Nobel Prize in Literature will inevitably lead to disappointment. There is no way to scry or foretell who will win the Nobel Prize in Literature come October. No bolt from the blue. No divine vision. No angelic messenger. Just a bureaucratic Swede emerging from behind a white gilded door in the Stockholm Exchange, who announces with understated vigor, the laureate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, and one either rejoices or decries. Then the clock is set back.

Of this year's discoveries, one of my favourites was the Swiss poet, Klaus Merz. Heralded as a master of the poetic understatement, Merz proved to be an interesting and engaging poet. One whose poetic syntax proves that simplicity is not overrated, but granite in assurance for successful delivery. Detractor may hesitate with endorsing Merz though, feeling descriptions between his poetry and Louise Glück being rather similar; but I would argue against that notion. Louise Glück operated as a poetic vessel channeling the universal and the personal in a lyrical poetry that was truly singularly her own, and refracted through metaphors be it myths or the garden, all of which is contained within collections that were unified beautifully with a sense of cohesive whole. On a side note, admittedly, when Louise Glück was announced as the winner, I was not particularly impressed or even fond of her award; but over time, I've come to truly appreciate Louise Glück's poetic vision. Klaus Merz, by contrast is not a staunch lyrical poet, nor is he a poet of the deeply personal. Klaus Merz comes across a jeweler poet, absolutely fine tuned and precise poetry. Their craftsmanship is an intricate part to their success and endurance. Where Glück's poetry collections are almost narrative in scope, Merz's collections are jewelry boxes of resounding wonder and treasure. The fine detailed craftsmanship; subtle clockwork and mechanical intricacies provide the basis to explore and marvel at the music box operas of his fine-tuned compositions.

I'd rather not give anything further away though Gentle Reader. Until (hopefully) later this week Gentle Reader, and again truly, thank you for everything.

M. Mary

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