Monday, October 9, 2023

Not So Nobel


When I was in the Underground Literary Alliance, I paid a bit more attention to the Nobel Prizes in Literature, usually lamenting the fact that mainstream American literature (and mainstream stuff is all the Nobel judges will usually know about, though if you're a professor of literature or otherwise eligible to nominate someone for the prize, you can try to direct their attention a bit deeper--I did that for a few years when I was teaching; my apologies if I was supposed to keep that secret for a half-century or something), had gotten pretty bad, and, as a result, was unlikely to have anyone win a Nobel anytime soon.  

I was right.  It took until 2016 for an American to win the prize, and it was Bob Dylan.  Now, I love Dylan.  I have quite a few albums from him and saw him in concert before, but he's not exactly on the level of Thomas Pynchon or someone else who might have been considered Nobel quality in literature (Chronicles is amusing as an odd memoir, but Tarantula is just bad, so the Nobel committee must have just given up on American literature and started out handing prizes for folk/rock music instead).  As best I can tell, the Nobel judges were either responding to pressure that they hadn't picked an American in decades (the last real American was Toni Morrison in 1993, though there may have been a couple laureates who settled in the USA later in life for a creative writing teaching gig or something) or they just were big Dylan fans and wanted to meet him.

In any case, that combined with reading a few laureates whose work underwhelmed me caused me to not care much who won.  The judges did have a nice run though for a few years, hipping me to writers such as Kenzaburo We, Dario Fo, and Mo Yan who might otherwise have escaped my notice.

The Nobel prizes in general, not just the literary one, used to be more prestigious, and they probably still are for some folks, but stuff like giving Obama a peace prize (a guy that ordered drone assassinations on a daily basis) just because he wasn't the horrible George W. Bush was pretty bad, so the Nobel brand has gradually waned in prestige for me and many others.  The latest Nobel blunder is giving the mRNA folks an award so that vaccine hesitancy could be combated, but, you know, maybe it would be nice if the vaccine actually worked instead of just causing autoimmune issues and other nasty side effects, up to and including death.  I wrote about the prizewinners a couple of years ago here.  If I could figure out their success was dubious years ago, why couldn't the Nobel committee this year?

At this point, it may be getting wiser to just avoid the people and work the Nobel committees award prizes to . . . 

Like Sartre, I would refuse the Nobel.  Unlike Sartre, I will likely never be offered it, but you can still read my work here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

To reduce spam, I have to approve these. On behalf of the spammers, sorry for the delay!