Sunday, October 15, 2006

Maybe next year, Joyce...

The first few weeks of October are both exciting and frustrating for Fosco. As the Nobel Prizes begin to trickle out of Stockholm, he has to put with the almost daily announcements of useless awards (like Physics or Medicine) until they finally get around to the Literature award.

Fosco loves the Nobel Prize in Literature (as he loves most other literary awards). Actually, the thing that Fosco loves most about the Nobel Prize in Literature is handicapping it. Who will win? Who should win but won't? Who might win but shouldn't?

To tell you the truth, Fosco's favorite thing about the Nobel Lit Prize is the perrenial presence of Skeletor, er, Joyce Carol Oates on the media's "shortlist." Yes, our JCO is Literature's Susan Lucci, tapped by both the newsmedia and the betting books (yes, you can bet on this!) as one of the heavyweights for the last several years. JCO's annual candidacy has even led the editor of the JCO infosite to provide this tart reply. Personally, I doubt that JCO will ever win the Nobel Prize for Literature, for the following reasons:

  • She teaches at Princeton with previous Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison (Winner in 1993). How many Literature Nobels are they going to throw at Princeton?
  • She's written somewhere in the neighborhood of, oh say, 6500 books and yet, NO ONE I know has read one of her novels. (Fosco has read more of her novels than he would care to admit, but all against his will. Ask him what that means, sometime.)
  • She's written (by a conservative estimate) about 9,740 books. Every time you look away, another book by her appears on the "New Books" table. Can the Nobel Committee really come to terms with that kind of oeuvre? Do they care to?
  • Although she's written roughly 4200 books, a close reading reveals that she's actually written the same 5 books, 840 times each. That's something I expect the Swedish Academy to notice. Eventually.
  • There's that whole mess with her accusing James McGreevey of killing all those teen vagrants. Stockholm doesn't really like teen sex killings.

So who did win? Some Turkish guy. Actually, to be more accurate, it's some Turkish guy who has faced political repression (a lil' bit) in his home country. Huh. Well, at least the Nobel Committee isn't predictable or anything.

So who should have won? Actually, I'm fine with Pamuk winning. I've never read his stuff, but it seems to review well. I mean, if Margaret Atwood thinks it's okay who am I to argue? (Atwood herself is something of a gunner for the Prize, eh?)

Next year, I'd love to see it go to Salman Rushdie (especially if the Academy really wants to make a statement about creative freedom) or Haruki Murakami (cuz I like him).

Actually the writer I think most deserves it (as he is certainly the best living writing working in English) is Philip Roth. However, he will never win it. Never. Why not? Because I don't see another American Jewish man (who writes about aging American men) winning. It turns out that Saul Bellow won the Nobel Prize that should have, thirty years later, gone to Roth. Time plays such cruel jokes.

Don't worry, Joyce--you still have that cushy gig at Princeton, even if Toni makes fun of you behind your back. And, as this post proves, you don't need to have a Nobel to do that...

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