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2015 Nobel Prize in Literature to be Announced Tomorrow: Ngugi wa Thiong’o in the Mix Again

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The 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature will be announced tomorrow, Thursday 8 October, at 1 PM.

The three authors topping the betting lists this year are no surprise: Svetlana Alexievich, Haruki Murakami and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o.

Alexievich, a Belarusian investigative journalist and non-fiction author best known for her book Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, was third in the running last year, but this year tops the list on William Hill (3/1), Ladbrokes (3/1) and Unibet (4/1).

Murakami, a firm fan favourite for the prize, is second choice overall, with odds of 4/1 on William Hill, 6/1 on Ladbrokes and 6/1 Unibet.

Ngũgĩ, who has been a strong contender for the prize for many years, is at 7/1 on William Hill, 6/1 on Ladbrokes and 7/1 on Unibet.

That said, last year’s eventual winner Patrick Modiano was pretty far down on the betting odds ahead of the announcement – and as surprised as everyone was when his name was read out, he was arguably more shocked himself.

Last year the bookmakers put Karel Schoeman at 19/1 to win, and this year the acclaimed historian is back in contention on their site, albeit at 80/1 this time.

Other African names in the mix are Egyptian psychiatrist and author Nawal El Saadawi, Syrian poet, essayist and translator Adunis and Somali novelist Nuruddin Farah.

Murakami is on record as calling the constant speculation “quite annoying”. “It isn’t like there’s an official shortlist,” he said on his website, “it’s just private bookmakers coming up with these odds. It’s not as if this were a horse race.”

Nevertheless, you can place your bets here:

Michael Orthofer of the Literary Saloon believes Ngũgĩ is the “obvious choice”:

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o: well, I’ve been saying for years Ngũgĩ would/should get the prize, and can still think of no good reason why he shouldn’t. You can argue politics regarding some of his work, but I can’t imagine that’s really much of an issue, and given what he’s written, as well as everything else (he’s from Africa, writes in Gikuyu, has written significant non-fiction) I’m just surprised they haven’t gotten around to giving him the prize yet. Not that that means they’ll get around to it this year, but he still seems the obvious choice.

And Bookfox has compiled six reasons they think Ngũgĩ will win the Nobel this year, including:

2. Biography

If you tried to write a biography that would make the nobel committee weep and kneel and genuflect, you couldn’t do better than coming up with Thiongo’s. Imprisoned for his writing, critic of authoritarian governments, forced into exile, assaulted for his politics, started writing in English but switched to his native Kenyan tongue — the man is the embodiment of someone who has sacrificed himself for the sake of literature.

Only four African writers have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature: JM Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer, Wole Soyinka and Naguib Mahfouz. South America has had six winners, and Asia five. By comparison, Europe has 80 winners out of 111. Perhaps this year Ngũgĩ could complete Africa’s handful.

The prize will be announced by Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy.

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Image courtesy of What’s Good Africa


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