Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Carla, peut je chuchotent quelque chose dans votre oreille?

It's Nobel Lit Prize time again and they're not going to give it to Philip Roth or Thomas Pynchon or James Ellroy because the Swedish Academy has been going through a rather sad anti American hissy fit for the last decade or so. Who are they going to give it to? Well, I'll tell you but first I'm going to look at who they have chucked it at recently and give you my views - not in any meaningful depth mind you but rather in a lazy list fashion something like this:

2007 - Doris Lessing: she's not bad actually.
2006 - Orhan Pamuk: an elliptical Turkish novelist, who writes about tedious people in tedious situations, tediously. But maybe it's just the translation - my Turkish isn't what it was.
2005 - Harold Pinter : delighted the Academy with his off the hook rant about George Bush, America, etc. You want to know how good Pinter is today? Watch the remake of Sleuth. Yikes.
2004 - Elfriede Jelinek : A fellow Serpents Tail author. Honour behooves me etc.
2003 - J. M. Coetzee : Coetzee? Really? Thin little books about South Africa, with a few fairly obvious observations about human nature.
2002 - Imre Kertész: The award that should have gone to Primo Levi.
2001 - V. S. Naipaul : Who doesn't love the grumpy Trinidadian misanthrope? I agree with this one whole heartedly.
2000 - Gao Xingjian : Yikes again. Soul Mountain has been staring at me from my bookcase for eight years. Once I took it on a longhaul flight to force myself to read it. I ended up watching The Graduate five times.
1999 - Günter Grass : Would they have given him this if he'd admitted that he was a volunteer in the Waffen SS? Probably not. Dog Years is ok.
So who is going to win this year? Four clues:
1 No one with an X or a Z in their name has won for a while.
2 Of the last 17 winners most have been ardent enemies of Imperalism(this ain't going to be Christopher Hitchens' year).
3 Every decade or so they give it to a random Frenchman.
4 To balance out the intellectuals who write vague pop psychology books cloaked in impenetrable language a la Elias Canetti (1981) they often give prizes to muscular earthy writers like Hemingway and Laxness.
So don't be shocked if the winner is Xavier Zscent-Benardin, a former bricklayer turned radical rive gauche playwright whose Iraq War play Booshed shocked the 11 people who went to see it. Either him or Carla Bruni Sarkozy, poet, author, song writer, muse, friend of Sweden, and chic first lady of France. Mark my words.