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2014 Nobel Prize in Literature: Ngugi wa Thiong’o Goes Head to Head with Haruki Murakami and Assia Djebar

Last year Books LIVE reported the new height of speculation surrounding the possibility of Ngugi wa Thiong’o being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, only for Canadian writer Alice Munro to receive the honour.

The same rumours did the rounds back in 2010, so it is no surprise to see them flaring up once again, with The Guardian reporting that the odds on Ngugi winning the 2014 Nobel Prize are improving rapidly: “Ladbrokes said that odds on Ngugi being named winner of the world’s most prestigious literary award, given out every October in Stockholm, had shortened from 33/1 to 10/1,” writes Alison Flood.

Read our previous reports:

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Ladbrokes is the world leader in online betting and gaming and are based in London. According to their rankings Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, whose latest novel Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is still fresh off the press, is once again the favourite to win, with odds being stacked at 5/1. Ngugi is tied in second place with Algeria’s beloved author Assia Djebar. Her work, however, has been criticised for not being “sufficiently univeral” – a description that could be applied to many on the list of favourites to win as they all write from culturally specific points of reference.

Only four African authors have won this prestigious award: Wole Soyinka (1986), Naguib Mahfouz (1988) and South Africans Nadine Gordimer (1991) and JM Coetzee (2003). Albert Camus was the first African-born winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature (1957), being born in French Algeria, but he was considered French at the time he accepted the award. Will Ngugi or Djebar be the fifth, or will we have to wait another year before we can rejoice?

The winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature will be announced in October.

A run of bets originating in Sweden has seen the odds plummet on Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the distinguished Kenyan author, winning the Nobel prize for literature next month. The chances of the recently-retired Philip Roth taking the Nobel have also fallen dramatically, according to betting firm Ladbrokes.

Ladbrokes said that odds on Ngugi being named winner of the world’s most prestigious literary award, given out every October in Stockholm, had shortened from 33/1 to 10/1. “It’s always worth following the Swedish money and at this stage the one they like is Ngugi wa Thiong’o,” said spokesman for the betting firm Alex Donohue. Ngugi’s books include Caitani Mutharabaini (Devil on the Cross), a novel written on toilet paper while he was imprisoned following the performance of his play, Ngaahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When I Want), which was critical of the inequalities of Kenyan society. He had been a favourite to take the Nobel in 2010, but that year the prize went to Mario Vargas Llosa. Tomas Tranströmer, 2010′s fourth favourite to win, went on to take the Nobel in 2011.

Learn more about the selection process for this prestigious award by reading up on it on the official site of the Nobel Prize:

Nomination and Selection of Literature Laureates

Nominations to the Nobel Prize in Literature can be made by qualified persons only. The names of the nominees and other information about the nominations cannot be revealed until 50 years later.

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