nobel choices

Via Moby, I hear that the Nobel Prize in Literature will be announced this Thursday and that the Syrian poet Ali Ahmad Said is considered one of the front-runners. If you’re wondering who the hell is Ali Ahmad Said, well, you’re not alone. He’s better known as Adonis (or Adunis). (Still no help? Get thee to a bookstore.) Adonis is not as popular as Mahmoud Darwish in the Arab world, but he’s still widely read and respected. Here’s my problem. While I think that Adonis is deserving, I’m irked about reports that the choice is motivated by desires to appease Arab audiences after the Iraq war. Adonis should win on the strength of his work, not because the time is right. (By the way, I was equally annoyed in 2001 when the Academy chose notorious Arab-basher V.S. Naipaul as the recipient so soon after the WTC attacks.) Anyway. Time to link. Collections by Adonis available online: The Pages of Day and Night. If Only the Sea Could Sleep.


8 Responses to “nobel choices”

  1. commonbeauty Says:

    Nice pages. I’ll be sure to visit frequently.

    Tomorrow: I’m hoping Philip Roth wins it. About time the American sentence got some respect.

  2. moorishgirl Says:

    I like Philip Roth. I wouldn’t mind if he won, either. Though of course an Adonis win would be great too.

  3. Jos Says:

    Dear CommonBeauty, you

  4. Laura Says:

    Does it seem inconsistent to say that in Adonis’s case the choice should be a pure, aesthetically motivated one but in Naipaul’s case politics and world events should have been a factor?

    FYI, there’s a fascinating discussion by Harvard prof Steven Owen in Modern Philology (May 2003) of the (of course inescapable) politics of awarding this prize. He makes the point that the writers who get nominated from outside the West aren’t necessarily the best or most representative from their respective countries, but the ones who have managed to get translated into English or French–and who gets translated is to some degree determined by, well, how translatable and how appealing to Western tastes their work is. Fascinating stuff.

  5. moorishgirl Says:

    Laura–that’s not what I said. The choice of Naipaul was political (someone who was sharply critical of religion in general and Islam in particular) and I disagreed. The choice of Adonis is being to *reported* to be political (to appease the Arabs), and I disagree with that too. Sorry if my post wasn’t clear.

    The article in Modern Philology sounds really good. Thanks for the pointer.

  6. Laura Says:

    Thanks for the clarification. I guess I was just imagining that by mid-September most if not all of the committee’s deliberations would likely have happened already–but in fact I don’t know anything about the specific workings of that committee, only a bit about how the NBA and NBCCs work. If they in fact settled on Naipaul after the fact, then I agree it is pretty smelly.

    Since you sound interested, here’s a URL for Mod Phil:

  7. moorishgirl Says:

    Good point about the timing. As I understand it, Naipaul had been rumored to have been on the shortlist several times before, but only won in 2001. I could be wrong. Thanks for the link!

  8. commonbeauty Says:

    In any case, Coetzee won. Which is nice for him, and not so nice for Roth.
    My basic prediction this year was that an English language novelist was due for the prize. I like the Swedish Academy: they’ve generally got their heads screwed on straight.

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