Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008
We love it when the post titles tell the story. The Swedish Academy speaks on why Americans don't win Nobel Prizes for literature, Adam Kirsch puts the case for homegrown fiction, and readers get to comment on all of it. A quick scan of the "Culturebox" board gives the following posts: U.S. writers robbed by Nobel Committee; most Nobel literature is boring; good to know America isn't the only place with bigots; Nobel nordicentrism; MFAs killed American literature; Europe is finished, anyway ("skinny French women … will all be in burkhas"); Danielle Steel.
Danielle Steel? By no means is she the only author who has been omitted from the prize-giving, thanks only to the sheer prejudice and anti-American feeling of the committee, apparently. But we would still challenge readers to guess what name is going to come after these words from Bec393: "[T]he only living American writer worthy of a Nobel nom is ..."—go and see, prepare to be surprised (maybe).
Bjoern Staerk says America's greatest contribution to literature is science fiction and goes on:
But then literary fame is not about justice. I've given up counting the number of wonderful authors I've come across by accident, only to find out that they're utterly forgotten and ignored. Perhaps the real problem with the Nobel Prize and other awards is that they give readers the illusion of knowing who the greatest authors are. The odds are that the world's greatest author wrote one promising book which didn't sell well, then gave up writing for a paying job.
There's a nice defense of Dario Fo by thelyamhound, who tackles liberalism in the same post:
As far as the politics go, the fact is that since the beginning of time, artists tended, overwhelmingly, to be "liberal" in comparison to the dominant social flavor of their respective eras. What exactly that meant must be taken in relation to the era in question, but the notion that there's suddenly some "liberal bias" to art is nonsense--not because there's not a bias, but because there's nothing new about it. If conservatives want more art, they should raise more artists ... but don't be surprised if the industry turns them (if nothing else, gays have always been disproportionately represented in creative fields, and while gays aren't reflexively liberal, they tend to be so on social matters, at the least).
Readers were keen to discuss the merits of Philip Roth and Toni Morrison along with the some less obvious names: According to B-Real, "We'll see Bob Dylan get the medal before they give it to some guy who sees fit to make biting commentary about the horrors of modern America from his monastic abode on a farm in Connecticut." (We think that would be Mr Roth.) Everyone had a dog in this fight, but Mikerol gets a mention for the most heroic nomination: In his view, Austrian writer Peter Handke "would deserve [the Nobel Prize] even if he raped his grandmother, just for the capacities for communication that he has enabled in the logos."
That might be the Fray sentence of the week, although there's competition: Let's hear it for WorkingAuthor, who has harsh words for Doris Lessing, and adds sternly, "I hope she reads this." Let's hope her day isn't ruined. MR … 3.30 p.m. GMT