coetzee wins nobel

The Academy has made its pick and it’s JM Coetzee. I’m really, really thrilled with the choice. It’s amusing to note that, according to the news story, no one’s been able to reach the man to tell him. Heh. Clickity Click: Waiting for the Barbarians. Disgrace. The Life and Times of Michael K..

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8 Responses to “coetzee wins nobel”

  1. commonbeauty Says:

    “The academy has given the award to Europeans for the last eight years. Since 1980, three winners have come from sub-Saharan Africa, three from South America, two from the United States and one from Asia.”

    The reporting on Coetzee’s prize is widely a
    cut-and-paste Reuters affair on several websites. All the more reason why the piece of reporting above should be exposed for what it is: foolish cant.

    Those eight “Europeans”, mind you, included Gao
    Xingjian (“French”) and V.S. Naipaul. More to the
    point, they neglect to mention that for the TEN years before that alleged eight-year Eurocentric period, NONE of the laureates was European.

    There’s also been the complaint that both of South
    Africa’s winners, Gordimer and Coetzee, are white. And so? I’ve been known to say that I don’t know of any black African novelist or poet currently deserving of the prize, and I stand by that. I think nothing’s worse than an undeserved accolade.

    Some say the Academy is pandering to the mutli-culti crowd, others say that the Academy is Eurocentric and racist. I say that the Academy is doing a very difficult job admirably well, resisting fashions and journalistic opinions, and that these nattering nabobs of negativity should shut up and curl up with a good book.

    Who knows, it just might make them happier.

  2. moorishgirl Says:

    Good points, though I don’t necessarily agree with your conclusions. By the way, you might find this article, pointed out by Laura in a thread below, worth your while:

  3. Webb Says:

    Common Beauty — you say you don’t know of any black African novelist or poet worthy of a Nobel. Is Chinua Achebe not worthy?

  4. moorishgirl Says:

    And Wole Soyinka, of course, who won a few years back. I remember when I heard he’d won, I was somewhat disappointed they hadn’t picked Achebe.

  5. commonbeauty Says:

    Is Chinua Achebe worthy? I have read Achebe since I was a child. He’s interesting, and has written one remarkable book. He is not, in my opinion, a master of the English language, or of the art of novel-writing.

    Is Achebe half the novelist (in pure story telling and command-of-descriptive and narrative language terms) that Roth is? Is Achebe a true literary peer of Garcia-Marquez? Is he the equal of a Harry Mulisch? De gustibus non est disputandum, but surely…

    There are, of course (!) many wonderful writers in black Africa, but I don’t see any of them TODAY that have written a substantial body of work of the depth and literary quality (necessarily subjective virtues) of the kind one might happily reward with the planet’s highest accolade for writers. Black africa’s next moment in literature will someday come, it’s just not here yet.
    (India, though, seems well on her way).

  6. commonbeauty Says:

    Soyinka’s, I think, was well-deserved. For his plays, and his creative non-fiction (Ake, and Isara). His work since 1986 has been weird, always literary, but sometimes almost barely literate or legible.

    (and sorry to be such a talkative stranger on your site).

  7. Jonathan Edelstein Says:

    I’d add Ousmane Sembene to the short list – he’s variable, but his best is up there with Achebe’s.

  8. commonbeauty Says:

    Good call on Sembene, Mr Edelstein. I admit he slipped my mind: his writing is very good, and his creative work in film is, of course, the West African benchmark. Not many of his stature around anywhere in the world; saw him talk a couple of years ago: truly an elder statesman of the arts, and very articulate about his craft, too. The novel “God’s Bits of Wood” was impressive.

    Always nice to run into folks who know what they’re talking about.

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