Who will be the next American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature?

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When Saul Bellow passed away last month, I was struck by the thought that America is left with just a single Nobel laureate in literature (though what a laureate she is!). While this doesn't exactly amount to an national crisis, it did have me wondering who will be the next American writer to win the Nobel. Any ideas?

Mark Klobas, Saturday, 7 May 2005 17:13 (seventeen years ago) link

Please not JSF! Please not JSF!

Hurting (Hurting), Saturday, 7 May 2005 19:14 (seventeen years ago) link

I have your answer:
Evan S. Connell.

Ken L (Ken L), Saturday, 7 May 2005 19:49 (seventeen years ago) link

fuck a nobel prize

Josh (Josh), Saturday, 7 May 2005 21:33 (seventeen years ago) link

Why? I agree that they're not the ultimate indicators of greatness (Mark Twain and Leo Tolstoy's reputations seem to be doing fine without either of them having won one), but they are a statement of who that era thinks is a great author. One might as well say the same about the Pulitzers, the Oscars, and the local company's employee-of-the-month award -- yet they're still given out and used as yardsticks of what to pay attention to.

Mark Klobas, Sunday, 8 May 2005 15:38 (seventeen years ago) link

except that the committee is so even-handed and PC. If an american writer gets it another one won't get it for another 10 years at least, even if there is someone who deserves it.

jed_ (jed), Sunday, 8 May 2005 15:52 (seventeen years ago) link

Updike? Barth?

Mayor Maynot, Sunday, 8 May 2005 16:11 (seventeen years ago) link

It ought to be Vonnegut, if there's justice in the world (or, I suppose merely in Sweden would be sufficient). The talking-animal fable is an underappreciated form - even if all of Vonnegut's animals happen to be human.

Aimless (Aimless), Sunday, 8 May 2005 17:19 (seventeen years ago) link

'a statement of who that era thinks is a great author'

a pretty presumptuous statement

Josh (Josh), Sunday, 8 May 2005 19:11 (seventeen years ago) link

Barth veers into cheeseball territory a little too often to make him a serious contender. Roth maybe? Though Daniel Pinkwater really deserves it.

adam (adam), Monday, 9 May 2005 16:24 (seventeen years ago) link

What heinous crimes do you have to commit to "deserve" it?

Casuistry (Chris P), Monday, 9 May 2005 18:18 (seventeen years ago) link


Øystein (Øystein), Monday, 9 May 2005 18:28 (seventeen years ago) link

deserve it? just look at the way he's dressed!


Josh (Josh), Monday, 9 May 2005 19:27 (seventeen years ago) link


o. nate (onate), Monday, 9 May 2005 19:44 (seventeen years ago) link

hmm, that didn't work

o. nate (onate), Monday, 9 May 2005 19:45 (seventeen years ago) link

Actually looking over the list of winners it's not as bad as I recalled it being.

Casuistry (Chris P), Monday, 9 May 2005 22:17 (seventeen years ago) link


mookieproof (mookieproof), Tuesday, 10 May 2005 07:48 (seventeen years ago) link

It almost has to be roth.

scott seward (scott seward), Tuesday, 10 May 2005 11:11 (seventeen years ago) link

is he gunning for it?

why would it not be Pynchon?

jed_ (jed), Tuesday, 10 May 2005 13:52 (seventeen years ago) link

I hope it John Fowles -- he deserves it, even if he's English/Brittish, not American.

mrblues, Tuesday, 10 May 2005 15:01 (seventeen years ago) link

don't these people have to write a new book to win? I don't see another pynchon book on the horizon; Barth hasn't written anything that people like much in ages as far as I know; Vonnegut is so far past the point of writing a prizeworthy book; John Fowles: does he even write anymore?

Maybe Vollmann although I don't really believe anyone finishes any of his books. Also, i don't think it would be for a long, long time.

kyle (akmonday), Tuesday, 10 May 2005 15:46 (seventeen years ago) link

Nobel Prize (I Think It's Going To Be A Long, Long Time)

Ken L (Ken L), Tuesday, 10 May 2005 16:54 (seventeen years ago) link

"is he gunning for it?"

he has written a string of BIG. IMPORTANT. NOVELS. Some even say his best ever. One more could put him over the top. And the last 3 or 4 have all been properly political.

scott seward (scott seward), Tuesday, 10 May 2005 22:29 (seventeen years ago) link

don't these people have to write a new book to win?

i dont think that's the case but i may be wrong. it's given for a career not a book.

jed_ (jed), Wednesday, 11 May 2005 20:39 (seventeen years ago) link

two months pass...

He's invented all those new words.

SRH (Skrik), Friday, 22 July 2005 21:56 (seventeen years ago) link

one month passes...
I think it is for one book, actually. I'm pretty sure Hemingway got his for The Old Man and the Sea, though I could be talking out of my ass here.

Dan Dotson (Podslapper), Saturday, 17 September 2005 08:23 (seventeen years ago) link

The Nobel literature prize is more of a lifetime achievment prize than a prize for any single literary work.

Aimless (Aimless), Sunday, 18 September 2005 19:49 (seventeen years ago) link

Yeah, looks like you're right. But to win one don't you have to write something noteworthy during the time of the nomination?

Dan Dotson (Podslapper), Monday, 19 September 2005 12:40 (seventeen years ago) link

I don't think so. Gunter Grass won, and, from what I understand, he hadn't written anything of note in quite a long time.

stewart downes (sdownes), Monday, 19 September 2005 12:59 (seventeen years ago) link


Dan Dotson (Podslapper), Monday, 19 September 2005 16:03 (seventeen years ago) link


Aimless (Aimless), Monday, 19 September 2005 16:06 (seventeen years ago) link

Norman Mailer is my candidate for the next American to be awarded a Nobel Prize for literature.

After him, in order, I would say the most deserving would be Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Joyce Carol Oates, Ishmael Reed, John Ashbery,
John Updike.

Ted Burke, Sunday, 2 October 2005 20:19 (seventeen years ago) link

Looking over this thread, it seems almost a given that it would be Roth.

jaymc (jaymc), Monday, 3 October 2005 08:20 (seventeen years ago) link

Dylan was mentioned recently!

the bellefox, Monday, 3 October 2005 10:20 (seventeen years ago) link

Teh Pinefox, please!

k/l (Ken L), Monday, 3 October 2005 12:55 (seventeen years ago) link

I predict a drought so long that the next American to win the Lit Nobel

1) is probably presently younger than 55, and
2) has not yet written his/her key work.

M. V. (M.V.), Wednesday, 5 October 2005 02:14 (seventeen years ago) link


the literary thug, Wednesday, 5 October 2005 02:24 (seventeen years ago) link

I think Alice Munro may be the next North American to win it, btw.

M. V. (M.V.), Wednesday, 5 October 2005 02:31 (seventeen years ago) link

Adonis (Ali Ahmen Said) is presently the punters' favorite for 2005.

M. V. (M.V.), Saturday, 8 October 2005 14:13 (seventeen years ago) link

In re: the predicted Nobel drought for the USA. That sounds about right. American literature has entered a fallow stage, after the huge excitements of the first half of the 20th century. The past 40 years have been OK, but not riveting, not galvanizing, nor any other metallurgical metaphor that occurs to me - unless it might be metal fatigue.

Aimless (Aimless), Saturday, 8 October 2005 14:24 (seventeen years ago) link

are we counting mavis gallant as na or french?

anthony, Monday, 10 October 2005 04:16 (seventeen years ago) link

If it's Alice Munro they'll all wake up one day and I'll have painted all the beige things eyeball-searing neon purple. HA!!!!

annerzinger, Monday, 10 October 2005 21:04 (seventeen years ago) link

Harold Pinter this year.
So who does Roth have to screw anyway?

Ray (Ray), Thursday, 13 October 2005 10:03 (seventeen years ago) link

PINTER!!! wow, i didn't see that coming.

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 13 October 2005 10:48 (seventeen years ago) link

Scott, you came back to ILB just to answer Ray's question!

k/l (Ken L), Thursday, 13 October 2005 13:11 (seventeen years ago) link

Hahaha! yes, it seems I did! an unintentional funny there.

more talk here for people who are bored and need more momus in their life:

Nobel Prize for Pinter

scott seward (scott seward), Thursday, 13 October 2005 13:13 (seventeen years ago) link

Well done, Harold Pinter.

the pinefox, Thursday, 13 October 2005 13:36 (seventeen years ago) link


M. V. (M.V.), Thursday, 13 October 2005 13:59 (seventeen years ago) link

When Philip met Harold

k/l (Ken L), Thursday, 13 October 2005 14:14 (seventeen years ago) link

I think if Pynchon publishes a big novel again he'll win it. I'm surprised Mailer hasn't already won it. I'm not a big Roth fan.
Pinter is awesome.

wmlynch (wlynch), Friday, 14 October 2005 04:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Sartre probably got the prize for his considerable literary work (Nausea, his plays, some of his stories pushing his philosophy along...a hybrid of French absurdist and his own philosophy), and then for his stance on Algeria, as far as the politics was concerned.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 17 October 2019 21:03 (three years ago) link

I was going to say Anne Carson but it turns out she's Canadian

plax (ico), Thursday, 17 October 2019 21:37 (three years ago) link

This is the twitter of the person who compiled it. You get the whole deal:

This is getting better by the day:

Peter Handke was a groomsman for the Remove Kebab accordion player's wedding (aka 'Dat Face Soldier', a convicted war criminal) https://t.co/oA7VYP5T6b

— from bosnian woods (@___adn) October 13, 2019

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 23 October 2019 15:16 (three years ago) link


Seany's too Dyche to mention (jim in vancouver), Wednesday, 23 October 2019 15:33 (three years ago) link

three weeks pass...

He wrote about fancying boys in his diaries but he didn't actually do anything, right?

I don't know anything about Mann. But quotations from André Gide (Nobel Prize 1947) available on request.

alimosina, Thursday, 28 November 2019 20:46 (three years ago) link

let's have a quick selection of nobel literature laureates and bad stuff about them:


... (Eazy), Friday, 29 November 2019 02:42 (three years ago) link

Libs are dying so this big king lib prize dying is good too

xyzzzz__, Monday, 2 December 2019 16:12 (three years ago) link

Former permanent secretary boycotts the ceremony: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/dec/06/nobel-swedish-academy-peter-handke-ceremony-peter-englund-literature

Frederik B, Friday, 6 December 2019 14:11 (three years ago) link

Can't believe they're cheapening the prize awarded to Knut Hamsun and T. S. Eliot by giving it to an apologist of oh never mind you know

éminence rose et jaune (Noodle Vague), Friday, 6 December 2019 15:11 (three years ago) link

It's stupid that people keep talking about Knut Hamsun getting the prize as if he were actively supporting the Nazis when he got it. In 1920. Three years before the Beer Hall Putsch. It's not like the prize committee had a magic ball to see the future.

A is for (Aimless), Friday, 6 December 2019 16:21 (three years ago) link

They should start giving it to dead people only

Muswell Hillbilly Elegy (President Keyes), Friday, 6 December 2019 17:37 (three years ago) link

Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk is using her prize money to set up a foundation in Poland that will support writers and translators, promote Polish culture abroad, advocate for women's and animal rights, and fight discrimination https://t.co/QXFBZ2144v

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) December 5, 2019

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 7 December 2019 08:21 (three years ago) link

ten months pass...


xyzzzz__, Thursday, 8 October 2020 09:39 (two years ago) link

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded to the American poet Louise Glück “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal.”#NobelPrize pic.twitter.com/Wbgz5Gkv8C

— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 8, 2020

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 8 October 2020 11:03 (two years ago) link

I don"t think I have ever read her. Should rectify this.

Tsar Bombadil (James Morrison), Thursday, 8 October 2020 11:05 (two years ago) link


xyzzzz__, Thursday, 8 October 2020 11:07 (two years ago) link

Lol @ the guardian forever:

"Glick, cited for “her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal”, is the 16th woman to win the Nobel, and the first American since Toni Morrison took the prize in 1993."

I guess autocorrect needs time. And everyone ever wants to forget Dylan won it.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 8 October 2020 11:16 (two years ago) link

Louise Glück on the terrible human responsibility of trying to grow tomatoes ❤️ pic.twitter.com/CluleyY6zy

— Cécile Varry (@CecileVarry) October 8, 2020

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 8 October 2020 11:42 (two years ago) link

Love her but this seems like a very odd choice

handsome boy modelling software (bernard snowy), Thursday, 8 October 2020 12:04 (two years ago) link

Mircea Cărtărescu gets robbed again.

pomenitul, Thursday, 8 October 2020 12:23 (two years ago) link

If Pynchon doesn't get it..

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 8 October 2020 13:39 (two years ago) link

I've never read her either. Just clicked over to poetryfoundation.org to read a few poems - not bad!

o. nate, Thursday, 8 October 2020 22:55 (two years ago) link

I think I should not be encouraged to grow tomatoes Apparently not, but will have to read more before deciding. All the reading the jury has to do, or is supposed to do---the thought of choosing one author makes my head spin, might as well use a roulette wheel. I dunno, I was okay with Dylan winning. Wondered if Sam Shepard ever would, but then he disqualified. Maybe Patti Smith someday? I mostly know her pages from when she takes them to the stage (most of those that I know are pretty good).

dow, Friday, 9 October 2020 01:23 (two years ago) link

Thinking about the ins and outs of a group of people who, at a point very recently, decided that Kazuo Ishiguro was a good writer, rather than what he is, is a fruitless task.

Gerneten-flüken cake (jed_), Friday, 9 October 2020 02:05 (two years ago) link

The only one I've read is Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall, which is scruffier, funnier, shrewder than imposing title had me expecting.

dow, Friday, 9 October 2020 02:23 (two years ago) link

This is one of my favs of hers, from Averno (2006)


There is a moment after you move your eye away
when you forget where you are
because you've been living, it seems,
somewhere else, in the silence of the night sky.

You've stopped being here in the world.
You're in a different place,
a place where human life has no meaning.

You're not a creature in a body.
You exist as the stars exist,
participating in their stillness, their immensity.

Then you're in the world again.
At night, on a cold hill,
taking the telescope apart.

You realize afterward
not that the image is false
but the relation is false.

You see again how far away
each thing is from every other thing.

handsome boy modelling software (bernard snowy), Friday, 9 October 2020 03:26 (two years ago) link


Dan S, Friday, 9 October 2020 03:54 (two years ago) link

Thinking about the ins and outs of a group of people who, at a point very recently, decided that Kazuo Ishiguro was a good writer, rather than what he is, is a fruitless task.

― Gerneten-flüken cake (jed_), Friday, 9 October 2020 02:05 (five hours ago) link

That was far more outrageous than Dylan winning.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 9 October 2020 07:46 (two years ago) link

i think ishiguro is good based on the one novel of his i've read, but i increasingly wonder if there's any point arguing about this stuff

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Friday, 9 October 2020 08:22 (two years ago) link

He is fine (def not Nobel worthy to me), but you always wonder the criteria these people have.

Prizes are weird.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 9 October 2020 10:14 (two years ago) link

I like Gluck’s writing quite a bit, though yeah it is weird to highlight her over any number of her peers of similar quality

Muswell Hillbilly Elegy (President Keyes), Friday, 9 October 2020 10:25 (two years ago) link

But thats awards for you

Muswell Hillbilly Elegy (President Keyes), Friday, 9 October 2020 10:26 (two years ago) link

Lol just about to say That's what awards are for iirc

1000 Scampo DJs (Noodle Vague), Friday, 9 October 2020 10:26 (two years ago) link

Thanks for "Telescope," bernard snowy.

dow, Saturday, 10 October 2020 00:57 (two years ago) link


Good review of a Dario Fo biog. Putting it here as he was another performer like Dylan to win the prize

xyzzzz__, Friday, 23 October 2020 20:05 (two years ago) link

In his Stanley Crouch obit Ishmael Reed mentioned that the NY literary world was aghast that Toni Morrison won the Nobel instead of Roth

Muswell Hillbilly Elegy (President Keyes), Friday, 23 October 2020 21:34 (two years ago) link

It's important to note that Glück was also the judge of the Yale Younger Poets award from 2003 until quite recently. Her profile as judge, editor, and poet in mainstream letters is about as large as it can be, but I think her name comes to mind for a lot of people simply because of her profile as judge.

Going to be honest: I think her poetry sucks. But it isn't for me, and so I don't really care. Glad she won it...

Though that said, another Louise, namely Louise Erdrich, should win it, IMHO. Her and Gerald Murnane are my two picks for sometime in the next five years.

healthy cocaine off perfect butts (the table is the table), Wednesday, 28 October 2020 01:10 (two years ago) link

Long ago Gluck did a week of seminars at my school and seemed to talk mainly about her divorce and watching soap operas all day. I think it was my first hint that even famous poets did not live their lives in artistic transcendence

Muswell Hillbilly Elegy (President Keyes), Wednesday, 28 October 2020 10:34 (two years ago) link

I like Louise Gluck but was surprised by her win. I had no idea she was this esteemed.

treeship., Wednesday, 28 October 2020 10:38 (two years ago) link

xpost I love Louise Erdrich! I really ought to read her latest, The Night Watchman. I convinced my church book club to read Future Home of the Living God with me early in the pandemic, and it was such a powerful experience to revisit Cedar and her family under these circumstances in the company of other intelligent and kind and terrified people.

handsome boy modelling software (bernard snowy), Thursday, 29 October 2020 14:53 (two years ago) link

Yes, she's so great, and imho, as good a stylist and storyteller as they come.

healthy cocaine off perfect butts (the table is the table), Thursday, 29 October 2020 19:41 (two years ago) link

two weeks pass...

Article on prizes and poetry which makes some points that reinforce what I was saying about Gluck's role as judge. Turns out that a lot of this is doing favors for people! Who would have thought.


healthy cocaine off perfect butts (the table is the table), Saturday, 14 November 2020 12:33 (two years ago) link

two years pass...

This piece (The Wasteland 100 years on) is not something I care to finish but it starts with Dylan as a literary figure argument (or a version of it). I've not read Ricks' book or anything like that on Dylan.

One hundred years ago literary modernism had its breakthrough success when Boni & Liveright published T.S. Eliot's poem THE WASTE LAND in a commercial edition, with Notes. I wrote about how it happened--and what happened after--for @PoetryFound.https://t.co/Dx3eZlrG8u

— Ryan Ruby (@_ryanruby_) December 12, 2022

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 13 December 2022 12:01 (one month ago) link

Looking forward to reading the piece on Eliot, thanks!

Goose Bigelow, Fowl Gigolo (the table is the table), Tuesday, 13 December 2022 12:32 (one month ago) link

This @_ryanruby_ piece on The Waste Land's centenary is superb, & in its range, variety, attention and bridging of then and now also an implicit defence of literary criticism. (Thanks to @chrisbrooke for drawing my attention to it.) Some thoughts…https://t.co/LGcd7ilK5R

— James B (@piercepenniless) December 18, 2022

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 18 December 2022 21:29 (one month ago) link

That's a really great essay. Have been thinking about it on and off since I read it when it was first linked here (Table, maybe?).

Shard-borne Beatles with their drowsy hums (Chinaski), Monday, 19 December 2022 21:38 (one month ago) link

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