Thursday, October 02, 2008

Ignorant and Insular?

The US is too isolated, too insular. They don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature. That ignorance is restraining. ...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 ... what I said expresses a conviction resulting from more than 10 years of assiduous labour.
Permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy (which awards the Nobel prizes), Horace Engdahl, who is also a professor of Scandinavian literature and a literary critic.

The prize for literature is to be awarded within the next few weeks, and of course the bets are on :
Ladbrokes' frontrunner is currently the Italian scholar Claudio Magris, who is 3/1 favourite to take the SEK10m prize, trailed by the Syrian poet Adonis at 4/1. Joyce Carol Oates and Philip Roth are the highest placed Americans, at 7/1, while Don DeLillo is at 10/1 and Thomas Pynchon at 20/1; Ladbrokes is also offering 40/1 odds on the generally reclusive Pynchon both winning and attending the prize-giving on December 10.
Postscript :

You can't say something like this and get away with it!

John Litchfield collects some reactions from the other side of the Atlantic. Sam Leith posts an excellent rebuttal at the Telegraph. And see also this very balanced post at The Literary Saloon.

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