Monday, November 21, 2016

2016 Nobel Prize for Literature

The 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature

Dylwho! I exclaimed, when I heard of the selection a few days after the announcement. I realized to my astonishment that this might well have sounded like an Anglicized Indian name. I Might well have said Dilhu, or Dylwho, Suru, Lalloo, Lallu, I am of Indian ancestry, after all. The 2016 Nobel Prize for literature emphasizes, yet again, how crazy and biased judges of literary prizes are. Awarding the Nobel Prize to a singer-songwriter for “poetry” – someone who would probably not even qualify to get into the starting blocks for poetry - shows that the 2016 Nobel Committee has gone off the deep end—to reverse IKEA’s slogan, definitely not Swedish for common sense. Soyinka notes:“Since I’ve written quite a number of songs for my plays, I would like to be nominated for a Grammy.” One can understand the desire to push the boundaries of what is acceptable as “Great Literature,” or even “literature.” But to use the prize, any prize, as a medium for literary and social activism is....not new, or unusual. We circle back to that old, old-boys-old-girls network of friends supporting friends, and that often discussed ideal that for literary prizes to have any meaning judging should be based on work judges read without knowing who the writers are. Any judging where the judges know the work and the writer is already deeply flawed and biased. This includes all the major literary awards: the Neustadt, the Pulitzer, the Scotiabank Giller, the Governor General, the Man Booker, the Commonwealth etc. We didn’t even look at the diabolical cycle of judges who become winners who become judges selecting winners who were judges who selected them as winners, or who they hope will select them in turn when they become judges. Confusing, senseless? Yes: Dylwho, Dilhu, Suru, Duru, Lalloo, Lallu, the 2016 Nobel and prizes and why we vie for them. Ha ha ha!               

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