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Guessing at the Nobel Lit Prize...

Reuters is speculating on the list of possible Nobel Prize for Literature winners for this year with the help of Michael Chabon. The list includes Philip Roth and Joyce Carol Oates (the latter is, to my mind, a most unusual choice), but the permanent secretary of the Prize was earlier this week reported as saying that American writers are far too insular to win such a prize and that is why it has been awarded to far more European writers over the past eleven or so years. Many are saying that it is now time, with the past eleven years going to prose writers, that it went to a poet.

The list of potentials also includes the brilliant J.G. Ballard (although if he is awarded it, may only attract speculation that it is because he is dying), Haruki Murakami, whose The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is a total masterpiece yet whose most recent works have left me feeling quite cold, especially Kafka on the Shore which felt as though it was skating around on the surface - too cold and far too detached.

One thing's for sure, whoever is awarded this year's Prize, they won't match Doris Lessing's reaction last year when, returning home, she was surprised to find hordes of waiting journalists who broke the good news to her, and then Doris having to sit on the front steps outside her house to try and take it all in.

My favourite previous winners of the past twenty years are Harold Pinter and J.M. Coetzee, although that is based purely on my being much more familiar with their (life and) works than the others, although I have tried, and failed, to warm to Jose Saramago, even though I had wanted to continue with Blindness, and Orhan Pamuk who, it seemed to me at least, was working under the Rushdie effect - surrounded by controversy relating to free speech and not to the actual merits of their creations. Whoever wins it will surely come as a surprise to most. Watch this space.

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