Mo Yan Wins The 2012 Nobel Prize For Literature
Years go by and the pattern seems to be repeating for the Nobel Prize Committee. A lot of fuss is made around the potential Nobel Prize for Literature winner, bookmakers release odds for gamblers and when the winner is announced, the majority of readers around the world are left slack jawed, with one burning question on their mind.
This year's Nobel Prize race had Japanese writer Haruki Murakami as the favorite, an author who's been charming readers around the world with his personal brand of magic realism (sometimes verging on full-on surrealism) set in contemporary Japan. One would've thought that the high-octane release of his latest novel, 1Q84, would've sealed the deal. Yet, the Nobel Committee found another way to surprise us.
This year's laureate is Chinese writer Mo Yan, for his 1987 novel Red Sorghum, which the committee has qualified of "hallucinatory realism" and praised for blending "folk tales, history and the contemporary". It's safe to say Mr. Murakami can forget about getting his Nobel, now that the committee has rewarded another writer for exactly the same thing, and his fans around the globe are left scratching their heads. Was it an effort by the committee to make a political statement about China? Probably not, since Yan has been criticized for being "too close to the establishment".
One thing's for sure, it follows the pattern set by the committee over the last ten years, of rewarding more obscure writers. Last year's victor, Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer was a big surprise, as well as Herta Müller in 2009, who nobody seemed to know before she won. It's not necessarily a bad thing, as it helps to cast light on authors that may not have had the best marketing machine behind them (expect Red Sorghum to sell a lot of copies over the next few years). But it's possible that such anticlimactic choices will eventually dwindle the hype and prestige of the prize.
To leave a comment