a common reader

Nobel Prize for Literature

Alice MunroI was somewhat surprised to find that I have a lot of authors winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in my library. The mere fact that someone won the highest literary prize certainly does not entice me to buy his or her books. (Her books? Not many female winners, I’d say.)

Nevertheless, many of the chosen authors are really interesting persons with a remarkable literary achievement. And literary achievement does induce me to buy books. Certainly the last 50 years are well represented. Before World War II the Nobel Prize committee was somewhat fanciful, even capricious, in its choices. Who remembers for instance Pearl Buck as a writer of class?

It should be said, however, that the task is not an easy one. The description of the prize by Nobel himself was rather vague. It is obvious that the Committee had to learn its business. And of course, there must have been pressure all around. For instance when Dario Fo and José Saramago received the Prize, the Vatican complained in bitter terms.

World events are another matter. The Prize was not allotted in 1914 and 1918, the beginning and the end of the first World War. Nor in 1935, why would that have been, I wonder? From 1940 to 1943 there was no Prize, the second World War, presumably. But what about all the other wars: Vietnam, Korea, Iraq I and II? A difficult thing, literature.

2014 Patrick Modiano
2013 Alice Munro (*)
2012 Mo Yan
2011 Tomas Tranströmer
— De herinneringen zien mij
2010 Mario Vargas Llosa
2009 Herta Müller
— Ademschommel
2008 JMG Le Clézio
— Diego y Frida
2007 Doris Lessing
— The Grass is Singing
— Love again
2006 Orhan Pamuk
— My name is Red
— Snow
2005 Harold Pinter
2004 Elfriede Jelinek
2003 J.M. Coetzee
2002 Imre Kertész
2001 V.S. Naipaul
— A House for Mr Biswas
— A Bend in the River
— In a Free State
2000 Gao Xingjian
1999 Günter Grass
— Mijn eeuw
1998 José Saramago
1997 Dario Fo
1996 Wislawa Szymborska
1995 Seamus Heaney
1994 Kenzaburo Oe
1993 Toni Morrison
— A Mercy
1992 Derek Walcott
— Omeros
— Selected Poems
1991 Nadine Gordimer
— The Conservationist
— None to accompany me
1990 Octavio Paz
— Obra Poética (1935-1998)
1989 Camilo José Cela
— La familia de Pascual Duarte
1988 Naguib Mahfouz
— The Cairo Trilogy
1987 Joseph Brodsky
— So Forth
1986 Wole Soyinka
1985 Claude Simon
1984 Jaroslav Seifert
1983 William Golding
— Lord of the Flies
1982 Gabriel García Márquez
1981 Elias Canetti
1980 Czeslaw Milosz
1979 Odysseus Elytis
1978 Isaac Bashevis Singer
1977 Vicente Aleixandre
1976 Saul Bellow
1975 Eugenio Montale
1974 Eyvind Johnson, Harry Martinson
1973 Patrick White
1972 Heinrich Böll
1971 Pablo Neruda
1970 Alexandr Solzhenitsyn
— Een dag uit het leven van Ivan Denisovitsj
1969 Samuel Beckett
1968 Yasunari Kawabata
1967 Miguel Angel Asturias
1966 Samuel Agnon, Nelly Sachs
— Nelly Sachs, Gedichte
1965 Mikhail Sholokhov
— And Quiet Flows the Don
1964 Jean-Paul Sartre
1963 Giorgos Seferis
1962 John Steinbeck
1961 Ivo Andric
1960 Saint-John Perse
1959 Salvatore Quasimodo
1958 Boris Pasternak
— Doctor Zhivago
1957 Albert Camus
1956 Juan Ramón Jiménez
1955 Halldór Laxness
1954 Ernest Hemingway
1953 Winston Churchill
1952 François Mauriac
1951 Pär Lagerkvist
1950 Bertrand Russell
1949 William Faulkner
1948 T.S. Eliot
1947 André Gide
— Les Faux Monnayeurs
1946 Hermann Hesse
— Der Steppenwulf
1945 Gabriela Mistral
— Antología
1944 Johannes V. Jensen
1943 —
1942 —
1941 —
1940 —
1939 Frans Eemil Sillanpää
1938 Pearl Buck
1937 Roger Martin du Gard
1936 Eugene O’Neill
1935 —
1934 Luigi Pirandello
1933 Ivan Bunin
1932 John Galsworthy
1931 Erik Axel Karlfeldt
1930 Sinclair Lewis
1929 Thomas Mann
— De dood in Venetië
— Der Zauberberg
1928 Sigrid Undset
1927 Henri Bergson
1926 Grazia Deledda
1925 George Bernard Shaw
— Arms and the Man
— Saint Joan
1924 Wladyslaw Reymont
1923 William Butler Yeats
1922 Jacinto Benavente
1921 Anatole France
1920 Knut Hamsun
1919 Carl Spitteler
1918 —
1917 Karl Gjellerup, Henrik Pontoppidan
1916 Verner von Heidenstam
1915 Romain Rolland
1914 —
1913 Rabindranath Tagore
1912 Gerhart Hauptmann
1911 Maurice Maeterlinck
— Bulles Bleues
1910 Paul Heyse
1909 Selma Lagerlöf
1908 Rudolf Eucken
1907 Rudyard Kipling
— Kim
— The Jungle Book
1906 Giosuè Carducci
1905 Henryk Sienkiewicz
1904 Frédéric Mistral, José Echegaray
1903 Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
1902 Theodor Mommsen
1901 Sully Prudhomme

* A name in bold means I own several of this author’s books. Clicking on the name gives the complete list. If I only have one or two books, they’re mentioned below the name.

Alice Munro


clezio

pamuk

coetzee

naipaul

saramago

heaney

walcott

paz

marquez

canetti

boell

neruda

sartre

camus

hemingway

russell


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