The Nobel Prize for Literature will be awarded on October 6. And online bettors are already getting busy. Houellebecq is the favorite and four Frenchmen are well placed.
After Le Clézio in 2008 and Modiano in 2014, will the jurors of the Swedish Academy still crown a French writer in 2022?
UK online betting sites believe it who place Michel Houellebecq in pole position. A first for the author of Submission. With his latest novel, Annihilate, published at the beginning of 2022, Houellebecq probably did not experience the announced triumph. He nevertheless remains the most widely read living French author in the world and his visionary genius cannot be ignored by Swedish scholars. His iconic side, singer and actor, would undoubtedly have been prohibitive a few years ago, but since the coronation of the bard Bob Dylan in 2016, anything is possible!
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Four rows further, Annie Ernaux, already in the favorites in 2021, is in ambush. His work is translated all over the world. The author ofA woman, Years, girl memory was a Booker Prize finalist and winner in Italy of the European Strega in 2016.
In seventh place in the ranking of bettors, Pierre Michon made a remarkable entrance. On closer inspection, this is not surprising. Crowned in 2009 by the Grand Prix du Novel of the French Academy, Franz Kafka Prize in 2019, the author of tiny lives of The Big Beune and of Rimbaud sonis a discreet man but a first rate writer.
In eleventh place is the writer and playwright Helene Cixous, often cited. As Maryse Conde, also 85 years old. Writer of French expression but claimed “Guadeloupean independence”, she received in 2018 the New Nobel Prize for Literature, an alternative award to the Nobel, which was then in turmoil after a few nice scandals and cascading resignations.
A surprise winner like in 2021?
Like every year, the Kenyan Ngugi wa Thiong’o is in the top three. But the crowning of the Tanzanian Abdulrazak Gurnah in 2021 prevents him from dreaming too much. In Stockholm, we like to cross from one continent to another.
If Don DeLillo and Cormac McCarthy are cited (the great Joyce Carol Oates has disappeared!) the Swedish jurors, quite Americanophobic, may prefer Stephen King, who occupies the incredible fourth place among bettors. A joke ? Not sure. The big scoundrel from Maine may love to write scary stories, but the fact remains, since Carrie in 1974, the author of a work certainly unequal but which has no equivalent in the United States. Not because of sales, 350 million copies; rather by his side witnessing the history of his country, its fractures, from the Vietnam War to September 11, through the assassination of Kennedy. If the National Book Award Foundation, which annually awards one of the most prestigious American literary awards, crowned him in 2003, it is not for nothing.
A few days before the verdict, you also have to know how to keep reason. The winner of 2021, Abdulrazak Gurnah, was not even in the list of bettors. In 2020, the American poet Louise Glücke was poorly ranked, as was Peter Handke in 2019. Unless the surprise was Garielle or Gary Lutz, American novelist and poet – who appeared as a transgender woman – when her book was published Worsted in 2021, according to Wikipedia.
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Michel Houellebecq on his way to the Nobel Prize for Literature