Friday, October 3, 2008

Criminally Moronic People Run the Nobel Prizes

I'm a couple days late catching up with this, but I'm still astounded that the Nobel Prize committee's top jurist, Horace Engdahl, could say that U.S. citizens receive few literature awards because American writing is insular, and Europe is still the center of the literary world. Excuse me?! I'm glad that New Yorker editor David Remnick pointed out that the Nobels had snubbed Joyce, Nabokov, and Proust, making them all but insignificant in identifying great literature.

I read a lot of European, Latin American, Middle Eastern, and Asian literature, and I am far from a rah-rah U.S. guy, but if Engdahl's short list doesn't include Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, the late great David Foster Wallace, Neal Stephenson, Richard Powers, etc., there's a permanent crease in his right and wrong. But then, Engdahl does not seem to be a man of great mental capacity.

7 comments:

Pat said...

Ah - I guess that English writers aren't respected either:
http://www.literaryreview.co.uk/naipaul_04_06.html

Loring Wirbel said...

Well, Hindus have plenty of reasons to hate them there Brits, while Scandinavians just don't like Americans because we have no safety nets.

Don said...

Pre-judging comes in many flavors. How do we break out of being "insular" when we sort of are. But great lit is great lit.

Ruth said...

NPR had this piece this piece this morning. Quite amusing hearing Albee list the greats (Europeans) who never won the Nobel (such as Tolstoy and Joyce), and Richard Russo in response to the European criticism that American is not part of the 'literary dialogue' say 'the book is the dialogue.'

Ruth said...

Oops . . see, still practicing. :|

wretch said...

It's what I've been feeling -- many of the most renowned (I chose that word very carefully) U.S. writers tend toward either navel-gazing or literary experimentalism that tends to lack both passion and any interest in the world around us.

And it's not like that's a new idea with me. Tom Wolfe went at American letters -- what is it now? -- more than a decade ago? -- for pretty much the same thing.

-b

Loring Wirbel said...

Why, Brian, you cheese-eating surrender monkey, I bet you've even heard of that Frenchie that won the Nobel Prize today. Maybe you've even read him.

Ruth, thanks for the NPR reference!