The Swedes have no clue about American literature.
Correction, Oct. 9, 2008: This article originally stated that there has been exactly one American laureate since Bellow won the Nobel in 1976. In fact, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Czesław Miłosz, and Joseph Brodsky have all won Nobels since then. ( Return to the corrected sentence.)
Adam Kirsch is a senior editor at the New Republic.
Photograph of Philip Roth on Slate's home page by Torsten Silz/AFP/Getty Images.