By October 1, 2008 2 Comments Read More →

U.S. to Sweden: This Thing Is ON

Horace EngdahlOh no he di’n’t: Horace Engdahl, “the top member” of the Nobel Prize jury, dissed American literature, big-time (“Nobel literature head: US too insular to compete,” by Malin Rising and Hillel Italie, AP):

Speaking generally about American literature, however, he said U.S. writers are “too sensitive to trends in their own mass culture,” dragging down the quality of their work.

“The U.S. is too isolated, too insular. They don’t translate enough and don’t really participate in the big dialogue of literature,” Engdahl said. “That ignorance is restraining.”

Several notable American literati offered stern rebukes, including this one:

“You would think that the permanent secretary of an academy that pretends to wisdom but has historically overlooked Proust, Joyce, and Nabokov, to name just a few non-Nobelists, would spare us the categorical lectures,” said David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker. 

Given that Engdahl also said, “Europe still is the center of the literary world,” I think we can assume that his dis extends to Asian, African, Australian, South American, and Antarctican literature, too.

I’m sure bookmakers have adjusted their odds for the Nobel Prize in Literature, which may be announced as early as next week, accordingly.



About the Author:

Keir Graff is Executive Editor of Booklist Publications and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix (2011). Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

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