Patrick Modiano? Zut alors!


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No award, with the exception of the Nobel for Peace, excites as much a priori lobbying and speculation, and post-hoc controversy, as the Nobel Prize for Literature. Some decisions, like last year’s honoring of Alice Munro, have been embraced. But certain past selections have spurred political fulmination ( e.g., Knut Hamsun, Mo Yan) and others, plain old-fashioned headscratching.   The inscrutable selection committee is famous for its surprises: who would have banked on the acerbic Austrian, Elfriede Jelinek? And there is banking involved, of a sort. According to the Wall Street Journal of October 7th (two days prior to the 2014 announcement) the British betting corporation Ladbrokes was offering odds of 12/1 on Philip Roth, 25/1 on Bob Dylan (a weird perennial favorite) and, sharing the lead around 4/1, Haruki Murakami and Kenyan poet Ngugi Wa Thiong’o. But hey, was there a leak in the famous Stockholm security system? Apparently the…

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