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Nobel Judge Calls US Writers Ignorant and Isolated

Hat tip to Kay Sisk for this article (and then Jayne who reminded me of it).  Nobel Prize literature judge, Horace Engdahl, said that the US authors were too ignorant and isolated to win a Nobel Prize.  It's been 15 years since the last American winner.  Says Engdahl:

"Of course there is powerful literature in all big cultures, but you can't get away from the fact that Europe still is the centre of the literary world … not the United States,"

As you might imagine, the US literature world (which is dying you know) struck back with Robert Kimball noting that the Nobel prizes are due to be announced in 48 hours and this sounds like some coy publicity stunt. 

"It strikes me as a kind of publicity stunt for a prize that in recent years has demonstrated its fatuousness and political complexion with one political laureate after the next punctuated now and then by a VS Naipaul just to lend a patina of credibility."

It's probably bit of both. Engdahl's disdain for US literature is probably truthful as his desire to puff up the importance of a prize that seems not to get the public acclaim that it might have before.  Frankly, unless some hot young thing is going to win the Nobel prize for literature, it's not likely to be important to mainstream America no matter how insulting some guy from Scandinavia is. 

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Val Kovalin
    Oct 02, 2008 @ 12:55:39

    I hate to say it especially in light of how insulting some guy from Scandinavia is, but I think the Nobel Prize may still a big deal to the American reading public.

    At least I can say that last year the traffic shot up on my other blog when I put up an extended review of The Golden Notebook right after Doris Lessing won the Nobel Prize.

    I’m with Kimball — I think that Engdahl is trying to stir up a little free publicity.

  2. The BookWhore » Blog Archive » Nobel Prize Judge Says American Writers Are Dumb
    Oct 02, 2008 @ 14:32:07

    […] to Dear Author for the […]

  3. (Jān)
    Oct 02, 2008 @ 16:46:47

    The Nobel is a political prize for literature. Its winners no longer interest me.

    You know, for a guy who thinks US writers are isolationist, he’s a pot calling the kettle black. The Asians might have a bone to pick with him.

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