Let the bar fights begin: Mario Vargas Llosa? You gotta be kidding me.
Of all the categories in which Nobel Prizes are awarded, none gets the blood going quite like the literary one. It’s a little tricky to have an opinion about the physics or chemistry or economics or prize unless you’re a specialist in those fields. Even the peace prize requires an inordinate amount of knowledge about world affairs in order to comment upon the decision without sounding like an idiot.
Literature, however, is accessible to everybody, which is just as it should be. When Toni Morrison won in 1993, I remember stomping around the halls of Ohio State University’s Denney Hall, where I was a grad student, muttering, “It shoulda been Iris Murdoch! She wuz robbed!” I had nothing against Morrison; I was just enthralled by Murdoch’s novels. My dissertation adviser grabbed me by the scruff of the neck (figuratively) and told me I was nuts. We argued, off and on, throughout the day. It was glorious.
This morning’s announcement that Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa has won the 2010 prize provoked ire in me. He’s a perfectly plausible Nobel laureate. But how about Joyce Carol Oates? Or William Trevor, the Irish short story writer and novelist? Or Arturo Perez-Reverte, the great Spanish novelist?
Members of the Nobel selection committee: Put up your dukes. Let’s settle this outside, shall we?
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