Is there any chance that Chile wins another Nobel Prize in Literature?

Only twice have Chilean writers won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The first was Gabriela Mistral, who obtained it on December 10, 1945 and, later, the award was received by Pablo Neruda, in 1971. 50 years after the last of these events and with several prominent representatives of national literature, the following question came to the mailbox of our Answerdog, from WatchDog GUIDELINE: How likely is Chile to win another Nobel Prize in Literature?

What does it take to win a Nobel Prize in Literature?

Since the beginning of the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1901, only six Latin American representatives have obtained the recognition. The first to receive it was Gabriela Mistral (1945) and then it was won by the Guatemalan Miguel Ángel Asturias (1967), again a Chilean with the poet Pablo Neruda (1971), the Colombian Gabriel García Márquez (1982), the Mexican Octavio Paz (1990) and finally the Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa (2010).

That two Chileans are on the list of winners by the Swedish Language Academy is, in the opinion of Braulio Fernandez, director of the Institute of Literature at the Universidad de los Andes, a well deserved achievement. However, he believes that at this point in history, both the Nobel and the National Literature Prize must be relativized. “There have been very great writers who did not obtain the National Prize for Literature, such as María Luisa Bombal or Jorge Teillier, who more than deserved it. The same happens with the Nobel. There are very great writers who never obtained it, such as James Joyce or Marcel Proust , the greatest contemporary novelists, and that does not detract from their merit, on the contrary “, he points out.

To obtain this award there are several requirements that must be met, in addition to the talent of the authors’ work. First of all, as this is an award to which the candidate must be nominated, the Academy establishes a series of aspects, where it is determined who are qualified to nominate the candidates. Among them are members of the Swedish Academy and other similar societies, professors of literature and linguistics at universities and university colleges, laureates of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and presidents of authors’ societies that are representative of literary production in each country. .

In addition, Literature experts consulted by PATTERN point out that at least three other criteria can be found, which are those that, in part, allow us to explain why during all these years other national authors have not received recognition.

The first is the international scope; that is, that the writer has a network of contacts that allows him to be known outside his country and that his works are translated into several languages. According Magda Sepúlveda Eriz, Academic of Letters from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Gabriela Mistral “rubbed shoulders with all the great writers of his time” as a result of the conferences he gave in different countries and his work as consul, which “allowed him to be part of the international cultural field.”

Another point to take into account is the one that mentions Ricardo Martinez, Academic of Creative Literature at the Diego Portales University and a doctorate in Linguistics, who affirms that after a follow-up to the delivery of these awards, he considers that there is a search for geographical balance, to include different linguistic groups and literary genres. “In that sense, it gives the impression that when a country with characteristics such as Chile has been selected twice, it is difficult for our country to reposition itself,” he explains.

Finally, political participation is another of the relevant aspects. Soledad Falabella, Academic of Literature, Faculty of Philosophy and Humanities University of Chile, mentions as an example the case of Gabriela Mistral and her contribution in matters related to the rights of children and women. “She is also awarded the Nobel for her work as a public intellectual, in favor of human rights and the values ​​that triumph after the Second World War,” he says.


Despite the fact that many of the great national titles are linked to it, reality shows that it is far from being predominant in the last 20 years

Is there literary potential in Chile to obtain a Nobel?

“In any case, there is a lot of potential and exchange of the things that are happening in Chile. For example, they are translating national poets like Carlos Soto in the United States. So there is circulation, reading, and interest and there is a presence that anyway is inescapable “, he assures Macarena Urzúa, researcher and academic at the School of Literature of the Finis Terrae University.

Literature academics share the idea that in Chile there are several well-known writers who may be candidates for the Nobel Prize. For Braulio Fernández, an author who has the potential to win the award is Raul Zurita, a poet who at the age of 71 has written more than 30 books of poems, which have won him 16 literary awards. The last one was the Reina Sofía Prize for Ibero-American Poetry (2020), which is considered one of the most important in the world.

Academic Magda Sepúlveda also considers Zurita to be a possible winner, because she shapes the world from our own disasters. “There is something there that I find that makes him a candidate for the Nobel Prize, since he has a proposal that brings us together as humanity,” he assures.

Regarding the narrative genre, Falabella and Luis Valenzuela, Director of the Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature at the Andrés Bello University, highlighting the talent of Diamela eltit, writer of the famous work “Lumpérica” ​​and 22 other novels, who also already has the National Prize for Literature (2018) and recently won the FIL for Literature in Romance Languages ​​(2021). “He has a political writing that crosses borders, such as Mistral, who can go from poetry to prose and political action”, justifies Valenzuela.

“They are unthinkable works of art that once again represent the values ​​of democracy, of the denunciation of totalitarian governments and that it is in favor of post-World War II values ​​such as human rights,” adds Falabella.

The academic from the University of Chile also adds other authors who are on the right track, such as Carmen Berenguer, Elvira Hernandez Y Rosabetty Munoz, and the Mapuche poet Chihuailaf Elicura, the latter obtained the National Prize for Literature during 2020, becoming the first Mapuche writer to receive it.

Although there are some authors who would have possibilities to obtain the award, the Diego Portales University academic believes that the closest Chile came to achieving it was with the works of Nicanor Parra, and that after him the country already lost its opportunity for at least a long time.

“I do not see any possibility of a candidacy in the very near future, there is no other writer, particularly in poetry, which is the strongest area that Chile has to be able to apply for the Nobel Prize category,” adds Martínez.

What is critical race theory


Copper mining contributed 11.5% of the country’s GDP in 2020 and during 2000 and 2019 it represented 13.1% of the country’s tax revenue.

What characterizes Chilean literature today?

“Chile is a country that does strange things with language, we are very creative, because we break the rules all the time. Poetry and literary writing have to do with that, creating new rules and languages. I would say that Chile is a country very fertile in that and very entertaining “explains Falabella.

Since Gabriela Mistral’s Nobel Prize in 1945, literary creation has gone through different stages, in which various topics have been addressed. At present, there are groups of authors who write about the concept of memory and post-memory, a classification in which they are found, according to Valenzuela, “novels that have marked the last few years, like those of Alejandro Zambra, Nona Fernández and Simón Soto”.

According to Martínez, Current Chilean literature is one that dialogues a lot with the Latin American concert in a postmodernist context, and it is also a narrative that is more linked to experiences and identity.

In this sense, the development of regional literature and Mapuche creation stand out. Magda Sepúlveda mentions the Mapuche poet in this area Jaime Huenún, an author who has published five works, which are characterized by mixing formats such as singing and the Mapuche story with modern discourses of experimental poetry.

There is also a development of literature created by women. “There are a lot of interesting things happening that are also thanks to the number of editorials and the independent edition that have accommodated all these voices and figures, which does not only include poetry or narrative,” adds Urzúa.

WatchDog GUIDELINE is a joint fact-checking project between the Faculty of Communication of the Universidad de los Andes Y PATTERN. It seeks to take items on the agenda and track their veracity from a positive perspective, not an inquisitive one.

The section Answerdog answers questions that come from the audience through social networks.

What is critical race theory


Learn about the three sections of the factchecking project prepared by PAUTA and the Universidad de Los Andes: Constitucheck, Perro de Caza and Contestadog.

We would love to give thanks to the author of this write-up for this amazing web content

Is there any chance that Chile wins another Nobel Prize in Literature?