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The Nobel Prize > Alternative Nobel Prize

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message 1: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments The voting closed on 14th August. (Did anyone here vote?) The top four authors from this longlist will go forward to a jury, and a winner announced on 12th October.

Official site:
Some press coverage:

The longlist was selected by Swedish librarians.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Nigeria

Johannes Anyuru - Sweden

Margaret Atwood - Canada

Paul Auster - US

Silvia Avallone - Italy

Nina Bouraoui - France

Anne Carson - Canada

Maryse Condé - Guadeloupe

Don DeLillo - US

Inger Edelfeldt - Sweden

Kerstin Ekman - Sweden

Elena Ferrante - Italy

Neil Gaiman - Great Britain

Jens Ganman - Sweden

Siri Hustvedt - US

Jenny Jägerfeld - Sweden

Jonas Hassen Khemiri - Sweden

Jamaica Kincaid - US

David Levithan - US

Édouard Louis - France

Ulf Lundell- Sweden

Sara Lövestam - Sweden

Cormac McCarthy - US

Ian McEwan - Great Britain

Haruki Murakami - Japan

Joyce Carol Oates - US

Nnedi Okorafor - US

Sofi Oksanen - Finland

Amos Oz - Israel

Sara Paborn - Sweden

Agneta Pleijel - Sweden

Thomas Pynchon - US

Marilynne Robinson - US

Meg Rosoff - US

J.K. Rowling - Great Britain

Arundhati Roy - India

Jessica Schiefauer - Sweden

Patti Smith - US

Zadie Smith - Great Britain

Peter Stamm - Switzerland

Jón Kalman Stefánsson - Iceland

Sara Stridsberg - Sweden

Donna Tartt - US

Kim Thúy - Canada

Olga Tokarczuk - Poland

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o - Kenya

Jeanette Winterson - UK

message 2: by Maddie (new)

Maddie (ashelfofonesown) | 113 comments I voted. When is the shortlist announced?

message 3: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments There are quite a lot of Swedish authors, but I can't quite imagine a selection of UK librarians choosing such a high proportion from outside Britain and the US (unless people were put forward to vote from each county library service for their knowledge of modern world literature).

As it appears to have been a public vote, I expect Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood and J.K. Rowling to appear on the shortlist.

If I'd known it was there to vote on, I'd have been wavering between Winterson and Pynchon. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o is someone who seems due a Nobel but I still haven't read him. And Olga Tokarczuk got the MBI only this year.

There are a lot of popular authors here - the list ended up taking hours as I was tidying up all the stray extra profiles as I went along.

message 4: by Ang (last edited Aug 21, 2018 09:02AM) (new)

Ang | 1685 comments That's great, I think I missed the publicity about this at the time.

So, four of these will be announced? (I understand the three with most votes + a librarian choice?)

message 5: by Antonomasia (last edited Aug 21, 2018 09:27AM) (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Finalists will be announced on 3rd September.

President of the jury: Ann Pålsson, Editor and Independent Publisher.

Jury members:

Lisbeth Larsson Professor of Literature Gothenburg University, visiting Professor at California University of Berkeley and University of Minnesota, awarded the Fulbright-Hildeman Award, awarded the John Landquist Prize, Honorary Doctorate at University of Southern Denmark.

Peter Stenson, Editor and Independent Publisher, former translator, critic, former chairman Marcel Proust Society, former Publisher & President Atlantis Bokförlag

Gunilla Sandin, Head of Library, former Program Director Göteborg Book Fair, Project Leader AIR Literature Västra Götaland, twice a member of the The August Prize jury for fiction, Board member Läsrörelsen/The Reading Movement.

Says on another page that the Academy is dissolved on 10th December. So are they intending this to be a one off, or to choose different panellists every year?

message 6: by Ang (new)

Ang | 1685 comments My impression from reading one of the linked articles in your top post is that it is intended to be a one-off, but I suppose if it's successful, and the Nobel continues to have problems...

message 7: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments It still surprises me what professional looking websites are designed now for things only meant to be used for a short time.

message 8: by David (new)

David If they want this to be taken seriously as an alternative to the Nobel that has a chance of even replacing the Nobel in terms of importance, they need the first winner to be someone who seems like the most conventional choice, someone who is least likely to evoke a strong negative reaction with anyone. Picking someone like Rowling (whose post-Potter books are AWFUL anyway) would be the worst choice. In fact, the more there is popular public input the more it is the literary equivalent of "The People's Choice Awards" and not the Oscars.

There are a lot of names on the list whose work I don't know at all, so I can't really say much about who I think should win. But I think Pynchon would be a really interesting pick, if for no other reason than it would guarantee that the winner will not come to a ceremony in person to accept the award. Maybe strike him off for the first year of the award for that reason alone.

Finally, I realize they have to go with awarding it to living writers only to be seen as a challenger to the Nobel, but the idea of a "Literary Hall of Fame" that does not exclude the dead seems more interesting to me. Or even if they awarded two people each year, one living and one dead, that might be a workable idea.

message 9: by David (new)

David Looking at their prize criteria the first sentence is this:

"The prize will be awarded to a writer of literary fiction who within the reader has entered the story of mankind in the world."

Unless I am having trouble parsing that, it looks like they didn't run it by a native English speaker at all. "Within the reader"? What could that even mean? I'm also a bit surprised "mankind" is in there, but again that's something maybe only a native speaker might be sensitive to.

message 10: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Atwood seems the obvious choice for someone who is popular, frequently discussed WRT the trad Nobel, and appropriate to the circumstances of the prize. Adichie too, though she is young by modern Nobel standards.

message 11: by David (new)

David Antonomasia wrote: "Atwood seems the obvious choice for someone who is popular, frequently discussed WRT the trad Nobel, and appropriate to the circumstances of the prize. Adichie too, though she is young by modern No..."

I had the same thought.

message 13: by Antonomasia (last edited Aug 29, 2018 06:41AM) (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Interesting! Murakami and Gaiman are obvious from a public vote, but what about Condé and Thúy? Were there social media campaigns to get people to vote for [one of] them?

message 14: by Maddie (new)

Maddie (ashelfofonesown) | 113 comments I've never heard of Maryse Condé before. I'll be sure to read one of her books soon. Thúy has been on my radar so maybe I'll finally pick her up, too.

Murakami and Gaiman I've read before. It's been a while since I've read Murakami... I think I've fallen out of love with his work, but I'm looking forward to Killing Commendatore.

I love Gaiman a lot. I think he's an amazing author and human being. His works are, to me, what Harry Potter is to a lot of people -- but infinitely better, in my opinion.

Also, weren't the judges going to pick one regardless of popular vote?

message 15: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments Yes my thoughts as well.

Condé used to feature in the Nobel odds though higher than a lot of better known writers (25-1 in 2015 for example) and was one of the Man Booker candidates in 2015 when it was an award for an author's entire works. So an impressive choice - but as you say not one you would expect from the same electorate who voted for Murakami and Gaiman.

message 16: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments Maddie wrote: "Also, weren't the judges going to pick one regardless of popular vote? "

They did say that originally yes. Although now seem to be presenting all 4 as chosen by the public.

message 17: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Maddie wrote: "Also, weren't the judges going to pick one regardless of popular vote?"

Either Condé or Thúy must be that one.

Condé was, out of the authors on the list whose works needed librarianing, the one whose books took the most time to sort out, so at least I know a bit about what she wrote now, even if I haven't read any whole books.

message 18: by Maddie (new)

Maddie (ashelfofonesown) | 113 comments Thúy I think is well-known in Canada and has won a lot of awards there. Maybe the Canadians all voted for her, haha.

message 19: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments If I had been asked to predict a female Canadian author on the shortlist it wouldn't have been that one...

message 20: by Antonomasia (last edited Aug 29, 2018 07:54AM) (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Paul wrote: "If I had been asked to predict a female Canadian author on the shortlist it wouldn't have been that one..."

There have been a few recent online controversies (which I only read of the other day) which might have dented the public vote for Atwood. (It doesn't seem like this Alternative Nobel vote was well-known enough to reach, e.g. millions of casual viewers of the Handmaid's Tale TV show.) So if voters include a large proportion of the sort of people who notice and care about these things then they could have an effect.
There might even be four different controversies:
petitioning for better procedures in the sacking of a Canadian academic, Stephen Galloway,
publishing an article suggesting there were problems with #metoo
supporting Joseph Boyden in a cultural appropriation controversy (this was mentioned in something I read but haven't found a separate article about that)
comments about similarities between 9/11 and Star Wars scenes

exhausting! It's brave to publish anything these days when people have to contend with this sort of stuff.

message 21: by Paul (last edited Aug 29, 2018 08:00AM) (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments On the Galloway incident e.g.

message 22: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Maybe things have actually always been this vicious, and similar stuff just used to seem more distant because it was just writers yelling at each other in the papers and there wasn't the possibility for the public to get mixed up in it via social media.

message 23: by David (new)

David Antonomasia wrote: "There have been a few recent online controversies..."

You forgot my favourite of all the Atwood media controversies, her objection to a condo development near her house.

As for the Galloway issue and her concerns with #metoo (that arose directly out of the Galloway issue), she has been somewhat vindicated in that the accusation against Galloway has turned out to have no validity. She was criticized for publicly defending him early on, but she also knew the case a lot better than most of the public, so it wasn't just a simple case of her defending a (male) friend against a (female) accuser.

message 24: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1713 comments I like the makeup of this list. I actually voted on this and if I remember correctly, you got two votes. I know I used one on Murakami since had a book coming out this year. I couldn't tell you who got my other vote. But I like the mix of known and lesser known writers and the variety of fictions represented. I especially like that inclusion of these two popular writers There seems to be decent publicity for this non-Nobel. I haven't seen if there is a cash award to accompany the publicity. But I imagine the world publicity will benefit the writers I'll buy the new Thuy after seeing the shortlisting of the author. I guess I'll sentimentally favor Murakami because of his age, but would be happy if any of them won since it should generate some positive feeling once more.

message 25: by David (new)

David I find it hard to get to excited about a lot of prizes, so it does not really matter to me who wins this. But I was thinking it might be interesting to have a different sort of alternative Nobel Prize that would be awarded to someone who was eligible for the Nobel, did not win it, and now cannot win it on account of being dead. A sort of "overlooked by the Nobel" supplementary list of names they could have and probably should have honoured.

There are the obvious candidates (Tolstoy, Joyce, Borges, Ibsen, Frost, among others), but what might be more interesting are candidates whose regard in the literary world really only emerged after they died (Kafka comes immediately to mind).

Anyway, for this prize the only author of the four on the list I had not heard of is Maryse Condé, and her book Segu sounds interesting so I might check it out. It it was a goal of the creators of this award to raise awareness of some lesser known writers, mission accomplished.

message 26: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments Murakami has asked to be withdrawn from the prize as "he prefers to concentrate on his writing, far from media attention."

message 27: by David (new)

David Paul wrote: "Murakami has asked to be withdrawn from the prize as "he prefers to concentrate on his writing, far from media attention.""

According to his website, the "most recent" personal literary prize he has won (separate from prizes for specific publications) was the Jerusalem Prize in 2009. That event was politically controversial:

In 2012 when asked about the possibility he might win the Nobel Prize he said, "I don't want prizes. That means you're finished."

message 28: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments Fair point and the Jerusalem Prize controversy may have put him off. The Franz Kafka Prize was years ago.

message 29: by Jibran (new)

Jibran (marbles5) | 289 comments Paul wrote: "Murakami has asked to be withdrawn from the prize as "he prefers to concentrate on his writing, far from media attention.""

I can see how a writer high on list of potential Nobel winners for many years might feel uneasy about the prospect of winning Alternative Nobel. Not only would it feel like an affront, it might also ruin his chances to win the actual thing.

message 30: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 6591 comments That’s was my first thought, Jibran. I have no idea what Murakami is thinking, of course.

message 31: by Paul (last edited Oct 11, 2018 06:45AM) (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments Announcement due 12 Swedish time tomorrow.

I normally watch the real Nobel ones live. I still remember thinking 'I am not sure who that author is but their names sounds amusingly similar to Bob Dylan' before the awful truth dawned. And I was quite emotional when Ishiguro won last year.

Think I will wait to read this one on Twitter - although will be interesting. My bet is Maryse Condé.

message 32: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1713 comments And Paul was quite correct.

message 33: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments A good decision I think. Someone who clearly welcomes the publicity - but also someone who if the bookies odds are a guide (and those did seem to be influenced by leaks) was a contender for the real thing.

message 34: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1713 comments Well the overall withdrawal of Murakami kind of took something away from the balance of finalists that was established originally, but I looked at this as a feel-good attempt to get some of the tarnish off the situation. Conde was a good choice.

message 35: by WndyJW (last edited Oct 12, 2018 04:01PM) (new)

WndyJW | 6591 comments I have not read Maryse Condé. What is the best book to start with?
I just glanced at the Guardian article; a post colonial storyteller sounds like the old Booker type of books. I am eager to read her!

message 36: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments Haven't read her yet either and from Goodreads doesn't look if any of my GR friends may have done either.

But from what I have seen the two obvious starting points are Segu or (particularly for those familiar with the Crucible) Titutba, Black Witch of Salem.

Love to hear from anyone more familiar with her work than my Google based analysis though.

message 37: by Lascosas (new)

Lascosas | 456 comments I've only read What Is Africa To Me, her autobiography, and I read it as part of my ongoing Seagull Press obsession. Well written, biting, thought-provoking. I recommend it.

message 38: by carissa (new)

carissa | 98 comments I feel like I've read I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem, but won't know for sure until I get a hold of a copy.
I'll look for WIATM Lascosas.
I am also ordering a newer work. Her reworking of Wuthering Heights-Windward Heights.

message 39: by June (new)

June | 121 comments I haven’t read her, but am looking forward to starting with Segu. Also just saw that World Editions will be publishing two new books by Condé in English.

message 40: by Val (new)

Val | 1016 comments I haven't read her either, but the library has a copy of Windward Heights, so I will try that first before buying any.

message 41: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments This is a very good blog post on our new alternative Nobel laureate

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