Writing is a strange and solitary activity. There are dispiriting times when you start working on the first few pages of a novel. Every day, you have the feeling you are on the wrong track. This creates a strong urge to go back and follow a different path. It is important not to give in to this urge, but to keep going. It is a little like driving a car at night, in winter, on ice, with zero visibility. You have no choice, you cannot go into reverse, you must keep going forward while telling yourself that all will be well when the road becomes more stable and the fog lifts.—From Patrick Modiano's lecture when receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature [Original French, Swedish and video] which is about cities, old telephone directories but mostly about writing, how to do it and what it's like.
2014 Nobel Prize in Literature Goes to Patrick Modiano who is a French novelist and memoir writer. This article from 2011 is a good overview over his career and life. He was born in Italy to a Jewish father and a Belgian mother. Much of his writing deals with recent Jewish history such as in the book Dora Bruder. His detective novel Missing Person, which won the Prix Goncourt in 1978, has been called a postmodern mystery novel.
Novelist Gabriel García Márquez has died at the age of 87. A giant of Latin American literature, he had struggled with lymphatic cancer and likely dementia (previously) in his latter years. To honor his memory, The Paris Review has reposted their interview with García Márquez from 1981, the year before he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Alice Munro has won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Munro is praised by the Swedish Academy as a "master of the contemporary short story." You can read a long interview with her at the Paris Review website and read some of her short fiction at The New Yorker's website: Amundsen, Gravel, Face, Deep-Holes, Free Radicals, Dimension, Wenlock Edge, The View from Castle Rock, Passion, Runaway and The Bear Came Over the Mountain.
We introduced UNZ.org before but it's probably worth revisiting for a vein of gold, the Nobel Prize Library (1971), which contains full modern translations of significant works of 20th century literature. For example [more inside]
Mo Yan has been awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature. A Chinese novelist, born as Guan Moye, his pen name means "don't speak." His most famous novel, Red Sorghum: A Novel of China, was turned into an acclaimed film in 1987. Here are some interviews with Mo Yan: Granta, National Endowment for the Humanities and Paper Republic. Speculation was rife in China before the announcement whether Mo Yan would receive it, and the matter was controversial. For people who haven't read any books by Mo Yan, the Swedish Academy recommends Garlic Ballads [NYT]. For more news over the day, keep an eye on The Literary Saloon and The Guardian's liveblog.
Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer has been awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature. His poetry has been translated into more than five dozen languages and is the living poet who has been translated most into English. He received the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2007, and the award page is a pretty extensive source of information. Below the cut I'll include a few of his poems that I've found online, but the best place to start is the poetry section of his website, where you'll also find an interview, video, audio and a list of English translations. Tom Slegh wrote an appreciation of Tranströmer and Mary Karr and Christopher Robinson discuss him briefly on Poetry Fix, and read two of his poems. [more inside]
An American writer hasn't won the Nobel Prize for Literature since 1993 (Toni Morrison). Slate's Alexander Nazaryan tells us why: "The rising generation of writers behind Oates, Roth and DeLillo are dominated by Great Male Narcissists — even the writers who aren’t male (or white)."
"[H]e goes on and on and on about the same subject in almost every single book. It's as though he's sitting on your face and you can't breathe." As expected, Philip Roth (bibliography) won the Man Booker International Prize today. Perhaps not unexpectedly, one of the judges quit rather than award it to him. Was she so wrong? Should they give Roth the Nobel Prize already?
for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt and defeat
Mario Vargas Llosa wrote poems when he was young. His father famously responded by sending the boy to military school—where he spent two ghastly years, gathering inspiration for his first novel—La Ciudad y Los Perros, published in English as The Time of the Hero. The military burned a thousand copies of the book and Vargas Llosa's infamy was secured.Mario Vargas Llosa, who once ran for president of Peru and once punched Gabriel Garcia Márquez in the face, has won the Nobel Prize in Literature, meaning Ladbrokes dodged a bullet. [more inside]
This year's Nobel Laureate in Literature is Romanian born author Herta Müller, who writes in German, as predicted yesterday by M. A. Orthofer of The Complete Review and Literary Saloon. Here's an interview with Herta Müller and a short bio.
Doris Lessing's Nobel Prize for Literature acceptance speech. "The storyteller is deep inside everyone of us. The story-maker is always with us. Let us suppose our world is attacked by war, by the horrors that we all of us easily imagine. Let us suppose floods wash through our cities, the seas rise . . . but the storyteller will be there, for it is our imaginations which shape us, keep us, create us - for good and for ill. It is our stories that will recreate us, when we are torn, hurt, even destroyed."
Orhan Pamuk has been awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature. The Nobel website has a short audio interview with Orhan Pamuk in English. Here is the AFP article which has a good rundown of his career. And finally, here's an essay he wrote this summer called Who do you write for?
The Nobel Prize in Literature 2004: Elfriede Jelinek, probably best known for the story behind Michael Haneke's La Pianiste.
"Jesus?" he murmured, "Jesus -- of Nazareth?..." Pontius Pilate, prefect of Judea, is the only historical figure named in the Nicene Creed -- Coptic saint or eternally damned, his role in the greatest story ever told has been debated by many of history's greatest minds: St Augustine, Dante Alighieri, Tintoretto, John Ruskin, Mikhail Bulgakov, Monty Python. Unfortunately, there is very little historical evidence about him. His role in the death of a certain charismatic Galilean healer and apocalyptic preacher is still being debated today by theologians and historians alike. He is also, of course, the main character of The Procurator of Judea, the classic short story (complete text in main link) by Anatole France. (France's magnificent story has lately been tragically neglected by publishers, even if the author was one of his era's most acclaimed writers in the world -- he won the Nobel Prize in 1921 over Shaw, Yeats, Joyce, Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, and Proust, and when he died in 1924, hundreds of thousands of people followed his funeral procession through Paris). These last 2,000 years of fascination with Pilatus can be explained, some argue... (more inside, for those unwilling to wash their hands of this post)
J.M. Coetzee's Nobel Speech. It seemed to him, coming from his island, where until Friday arrived he lived a silent life, that there was too much speech in the world. Coetzee, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, delivers his lecture from the perspective of Robinson Crusoe.
The Nobel Prize for Literature will be announced on Thursday. Two candidates with buzz this year are Syrian poet Ali Ahmad Said, better known as Adonis, and New Zealand novelist-memoirist Janet Frame. Other candidates frequently mentioned include JM Coetzee, Philip Roth, Inger Christensen, Tomas Transtroemer, Margaret Atwood and Carlos Fuentes.
Nobel Prize for Literature. We've got a winner. Imre Kertesz from Hungary. Ever heard of him?
Finally the Nobel Prize For Literature Gets It Right Jorge Luis Borges didn't get it. Neither did Marcel Proust. But today V.S.Naipaul, arguably the best writer in the English language since Samuel Beckett died, was awarded the Nobel Prize. Doesn't this just show it helps not to be English(e.g. Irish, American, Indian or Trinidadian)to be able to write dry and timeless prose such as Sir Vidia's?