Nobel Prize in Literature Odds: Murakami a Co-Favorite

A quick note: the Nobel Prize in Literature will be announced on Thursday October 9th, 2014, and Japanese writer Haruki Murakami leads the odds according to The Guardian:

With just three days to go before the 2014 Nobel prize for literature is awarded, Haruki Murakami and the Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o are joint favourites to win the literary world’s greatest honour.

The Swedish Academy announced this morning that the winner of the literature Nobel would be revealed on Thursday 9 October at 1pm CET (noon BST). Ladbrokes, which has frequently seen the eventual victor surge to the top of its odds in the days before the announcement, said today that Ngũgĩ and Murakami were, at 4/1, joint favourites to win Thursday’s eight million kronor (£693,000) prize.

“It was looking for months as though Murakami would head into the announcement day as the hot favourite, but [Ngũgĩ] has captured the imagination late on (odds cut from 12/1, to 6/1 then 4/1) and he could easily become the clear favourite very soon,” said Ladbrokes spokesman Alex Donohue.

Third placed at Ladbrokes is Svetlana Alexievich, the Belarusian investigative journalist, at 7/1, with the Syrian poet Adonis at 10/1, together with the French novelist Patrick Modiano. The US novelist Philip Roth, Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse and Austrian writer Peter Handke – who recently won the International Ibsen prize – are all at 12/1.

If Murakami wins (as he should!), he’ll be the second Nobel Prize winner in the last 10 years who incorporates major speculative elements into his or her work. Doris Lessing won in 2007, and she has a major five volume experimental science fiction novel called Canopus in Argos that is dense, complicated, and nearly unreadable. Murakami’s use of science fiction and fantasy are much more accessible; his book The Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World alternates between cyberpunk and fantasy worlds; Kafka on the Shore fuses a quest narrative into the modern world; and 1Q84 explores the idea of alternative worlds. All are easily accessible and uniformly excellent: I suggest Hard-Boiled Wonderland for new Murakami readers.

If Murakami wins, that’ll mean two Nobel Prize winners who are arguable “SFF” writers—neither of whom ever got a Nebula or Hugo nomination. Strange world!

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