So Orhan Pamuk, “who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures,” has won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Pamuk is pretty popular around here, but I definitely think more people were rooting for Philip Roth (or, “Big Phil,” as we affectionately call him).
I hate to go with what seems to be the prevailing sentiment, but it does feel as if political concerns have won out again. Fortunately, Pamuk is a writer of both heft and renown (even if his politics have been polarizing in his native Turkey), so it his winning seems at least reasonable. The 2004 winner, Elfriede Jelinek, may be a writer of terrific heft–who knows?
Here’s a link to Pamuk’s most recent book, Istanbul: Memories and the City. And here’s a link to a review of his most recent novel, Snow. Just two opinions–but does he sound like a Nobel laureate to you?
In “The Ignoble Prize,” (Salon), George Rafael, writing before the prize was announced, examines the politics of the prize and concludes:
If you put faith in prizes then the Nobel does matter, not for its literary merit, which seldom counts, but for what it has come to represent. Factors such as which country’s turn it is to win, being at the right trouble spot at the right time and, above all, gravitas — the right tone as it were — on the burning issues of the day weigh more.
He also states, amusingly:
This is only to say that perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised when the prize blows up in our faces. (Among other things, Alfred Nobel invented dynamite.)
All right, I need to go get some coffee. Could everyone please not award any prizes for a few minutes?
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