Friday, October 7, 2011

Tranströmer and Mistry

As you may have read in the news, the Nobel Prize for Literature went to Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer. While I hadn't heard of him before the announcement, I am happy that a poet has won (there aren't many poets among the recent laureates). The responses were mixed, but then they are every other year. Too many European laureates, some people says. He's just some obscure Scandinavian poet nobody was aware of, other people may say. I'll just link you to this article written by Tim Parks called 'What's Wrong with the NobelPrize in Literature'. It summarizes all my ideas on the prize: how can you award a prize that is supposed to be truly global when all the judges are Swedish academics? Of course the jury tried to send a red herring by awarding the prize to someone who writes in a minor language, Swedish. Of course, they were not bold enough to venture into kikuyu literature and this makes you think.

I think it is also nice to acknowledge that the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, which some people call the American Nobel, was awarded to Indian-Canadian writer RohintonMistry, which strangely enough I haven't read. He is a lot more famous than Tranströmer and writes in English.

Here you have the other side of the coin and the usual dilemma: is it better that those prizes be awarded to well-known writers who write in languages many people can read or is it worthwhile to dig for new talents in minor languages? And, above all, why do we care so much about these prizes? 

1 comment:

  1. Sconosciutissimo il Premiio Nobel. Bene comunque per la poesia.E bene anche per Mistry. Quesi indiani continuano a superare il vecchio dominatore. Bene bene