Friday, April 24, 2009

Time to Get Rid of the Nobel Prize?

Marie Arana, once a fixture at the Washington Post Book World (now defunct), thinks it's time to eliminate the Nobel Prize in Literature:

I'm not proposing to eliminate the prize because one official branded Americans lumbering ignoramuses. I'm doing it because, since Alfred Nobel, the chemist who invented dynamite, founded his famous prize, the Nobel has shown a breathtaking proclivity for exalting minor literary talent.
Arana dubs last year's winner, J.M.G. Le Cl├ęzio, "erratic and treacly." She thinks the choices reveal "a lack of critical judgment and a surfeit of political zeal." In this feisty Arana concludes only 15 of the 115 laureates deserved the Prize.


Steph said...

I think in retrospect a lot of book awards are probably given to books or authors who were perhaps not the most deserving. It happens, and it's the gamble you take. But Arana calls Steinbeck "merely average" in her piece, which makes me take much of what she says with a huge tablespoon of salt! By her count, the award has only been deserved 15 times, but by many others, who knows? It might be much higher, while other awards might be much lower.

An Anonymous Child said...

The article is quite strange. Arana may raise an interesting point here and there, but ultimately the awards are their own thing and have a different purpose from other awards. The comments, though, are most enlightening and interesting. Well worth reading just for that.