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This From A Guy Who Eats Lute Fish?

 
 
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2008 01:43 am
Apparently, there is little chance for a Nobel going to an American author this year. Not even if they can match the anti-American spirit that seems to be required of recent winners:

2007 - Doris Lessing
2006 -Orhan Pamuk
2005 - Harold Pinter
2004- Elfride Jelinek

Moreover, let's not forget that favorite from 1999 - Gunter Grass

As for American writers, we can only offer hacks like:

Cormac McCarthy
Phillip Roth
Dom DeLillo
Bret Ellis
Thomas Pynchon
David Foster Wallace (Can the award be posthumous?)
Joyce Carol Oates (Good grief why doesn’t she have this award yet? I wouldn't vote for her - based on literary talent as opposed to politics - but one would think that she is a perfect selection for the anti-American Nobel jury.)
Chuck Palahniuk

(Among others)

Hey, this list even contains a number of writers with anti-American bonafides! So WTF!

Someone who can beautifully write can be an asshole, and so what hope is there that the people who judge writing will not be?

I am, in part, of Swedish ancestry and so it pains me to say this, but Engdahl is, clearly, a major dick.

Quote:
U.S. writers are "too sensitive to trends in their own mass culture," dragging down the quality of their work.


Considering that their culture, mass or otherwise, is unarguably driving the cultures of the rest of the world, it seems that an author should be sensitive to the trends in American culture. Obviously, this is not the only culture worthy of consideration, but focusing upon it should hardly disqualify an author from a prestigious award for literature.

Additional source: http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) -- Bad news for American writers hoping for a Nobel Prize next week: the top member of the award jury believes the United States is too insular and ignorant to compete with Europe when it comes to great writing.

As the Swedish Academy enters final deliberations for this year's award, permanent secretary Horace Engdahl said it's no coincidence that most winners are European.

"Of course there is powerful literature in all big cultures, but you can't get away from the fact that Europe still is the center of the literary world ... not the United States," he told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview Tuesday.

He said the 16-member award jury has not selected this year's winner, and dropped no hints about who was on the short list. Americans Philip Roth and Joyce Carol Oates usually figure in speculation, but Engdahl wouldn't comment on any names.

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."

His comments were met with fierce reactions from literary officials across the Atlantic.

"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.

"And if he looked harder at the American scene that he dwells on, he would see the vitality in the generation of Roth, Updike, and DeLillo, as well as in many younger writers, some of them sons and daughters of immigrants writing in their adopted English. None of these poor souls, old or young, seem ravaged by the horrors of Coca-Cola."

Harold Augenbraum, executive director of the foundation which administers the National Book Awards, said he wanted to send Engdahl a reading list of U.S. literature.

"Such a comment makes me think that Mr. Engdahl has read little of American literature outside the mainstream and has a very narrow view of what constitutes literature in this age," he said.

"In the first place, one way the United States has embraced the concept of world culture is through immigration. Each generation, beginning in the late 19th century, has recreated the idea of American literature."

He added that this is something the English and French are discovering as immigrant groups begin to take their place in those traditions.

The most recent American to win the award was Toni Morrison in 1993. Other American winners include Saul Bellow, John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway.

As permanent secretary, Engdahl is a voting member of and spokesman for the secretive panel that selects the winners of what many consider the most prestigious award in literature.

The academy often picks obscure writers and hardly ever selects best-selling authors. It regularly faces accusations of snobbery, political bias and even poor taste.

Since Japanese writer Kenzaburo Oe won the award in 1994, the selections have had a distinct European flavor. Nine of the subsequent laureates were Europeans, including last year's winner, Doris Lessing of Britain (though Lessing often writes about her life in southern Africa). Of the other four, one was from Turkey and the others from South Africa, China and Trinidad. All had strong ties to Europe.

Engdahl said Europe draws literary exiles because it "respects the independence of literature" and can serve as a safe haven.

"Very many authors who have their roots in other countries work in Europe, because it is only here where you can be left alone and write, without being beaten to death," he said. "It is dangerous to be an author in big parts of Asia and Africa."

The Nobel Prize announcements start next week with the medicine award on Monday, followed by physics, chemistry, peace and economics. Next Thursday is a possible date for the literature prize, but the Swedish Academy by tradition only gives the date two days before.

Engdahl suggested the announcement date could be a few weeks away, saying "it could take some time" before the academy settles on a name.

Each Nobel Prize includes a $1.3 million purse, a gold medal and a diploma. The awards are handed out December 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel's death in 1896.
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saab
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2008 04:43 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
This from someone who does NOT eat lutfisk.
It seems like Engdahl has not read much American litterature lately or only shallow books.
When Elfride Jelinek was choosen there was a survey of how many Swedes had heard about her - if I am not wrong something like 10%. Of course her books were printed - but not sold. I have read some and it is more interesting to watch paint dry. I did not just read her books, but studied them carefully, went to a play and a workshop.

The Swedes /Scandinavians read a lot. Americans read a lot too, whereas Germans read very little in comparasing. So how can he talk about only Europe has good litterature? It is not only what is written but also how much is read in the country. What does help to have a Nobel Prize winner if the people don´t read him/her or even know about the person?
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2008 05:02 am
@saab,
saab wrote:
The Swedes /Scandinavians read a lot. Americans read a lot too, whereas Germans read very little in comparasing. So how can he talk about only Europe has good litterature? It is not only what is written but also how much is read in the country. What does help to have a Nobel Prize winner if the people don´t read him/her or even know about the person?



Do you have a source for how much some nationalities read compared to others?

I can imagine that Jelinek isn't much read outside Austria - it's not easy to understand her Jewish-Czech-Austrian language as well as her point of view about life in Austria of you don't live there.

Engdahl is Swede and professor of Scandinavian literature - perhaps his views are that broad?
saab
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2008 05:20 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Yes I do have some information about reading habits in different countries.
Some years ago I saw a statistic. Of course the amount of books read can only be counted on books sold and books gotten from the library, which does not mean they always are read.
Scandinavians and Dutch read something like close to 30 a year and the Germans 7. British, French and Americans read much more than Germans.
If you note how many and how large libraries a city has when visiting a country you soon find out the interest in books. Also note the opening times.
Watch a film on TV and observe if there a books around in the livingroom.
A film is often a mirror of the daily life in that country. Talk about books with people from other countries and you will notice how much or how little they read.
Latest survey I saw about Sweden.
30% read a book a week
30% read a book a month
15% read irregular
15% never read
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2008 05:25 am
@saab,
Well, I know those anecdotal results as well.

That's why I was asking about reading.

However, why should your "figures" indicate that European literature isn't good or US-American is better or what do they say about Engdahl's opinion?
saab
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2008 05:34 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Well, I know those anecdotal results as well.
AS FAR AS I KNOW I DID NOT COME UP WITH ANY ANECDOTAL RESULTS AT ALL
SOME BOOKS MIGHT NOT BE READ AND OTHERS BY TWO OR THREE IN THE FAMILY

However, why should your "figures" indicate that European literature isn't good or US-American is better or what do they say about Engdahl's opinion?

MY FIGURES DID NOT INDICATE ANYTHING ABOUT EUROPEAN NOR AMERICAN LITERATURE BEING GOOD OR BAD ONLY ABOUT READINGHABITS

DID YOU AS A GERMAN GET A BIT UPSET THAT GERMANY IS NOT THE COUNTRY WITH THE MOST READERS?????

Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2008 05:36 am
@saab,
saab wrote:

DID YOU AS A GERMAN GET A BIT UPSET THAT GERMANY IS NOT THE COUNTRY WITH THE MOST READERS?????


No. And I don't see a reason to shout neither.

Have a nice day.
saab
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Oct, 2008 05:43 am
@Walter Hinteler,
I did not shout - I just wrote two different ways to make a difference between your text and mine.
As a rule I don´t shout at people.
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