JENNIFER PLATT | After some odd choices, this year’s Nobel winner is deserving

Abdulrazak Gurnah is the first black African author to have won the award since Nigeria’s Wole Soyinka in 1986

13 October 2021 - 19:27

The Nobel Prize for Literature is one of those awards no one can predict. Many try, but fail dismally. There’s no list of authors published because though certain books are cited as being particularly noteworthy, the award is based on an author’s body of work and it’s up to a random Swedish cohort of lifelong members to determine the laureate. The Nobel committee sends nomination forms to hundreds of individuals and organisations qualified to nominate for the prize and these are not made known. The nominations are sifted through, a final list of five people is drawn — also not divulged, the committee reads their works, then meets. To win, the candidate must receive more than half of the votes cast. 

The bookies (yes, people do still bet on this) have had practically the same list of odds for years now. This year, Annie Ernaux at 8/1, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o 8/1, Haruki Murakami 10/1 and Margaret Atwood 10/1 topped the list, with Salman Rushdie, Stephen King and William T Vollmann getting 50/1 odds and Richard Osman, at the bottom, 100/1. Quite a surprise, but not as much of a shock as when Bob Dylan was awarded the honour in 2016. ..

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