Haruki Murakami: early leader in Nobel Prize predictions(Read article summary)
British gambling site Ladbrokes puts Japanese author Haruki Murakami at odds of 10/1 for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
L: Elena Seibert/Knopf
Itâ€™s the Kentucky Derby of literature, the Super Bowl of bibliophiles, the most bet-on literary competition of the year. The announcement of the Nobel Prize in Literature may be months away, but bet-placing is in full swing. In the top spot with 10/1 odds is Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, according to British gambling site Ladbrokes.
If past precedent is any indication, it might just be a good bet. Last year the prize was awarded to Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer, who was Ladbrokeâ€™s second favorite with initial odds of 9/2 (just behind Syrian poet Adonis, at 4/1).Â Interestingly, Murakami was a favorite last year, too, with odds at one point hitting 8/1.
The author of â€śNorwegian Woodâ€ť and â€śThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle,â€ť Murakami is perhaps best known for his recent â€śIQ84,â€ť an epic trilogy that sold millions in Japan and the US. As we wrote in an earlier Chapter & Verse post, his novels â€śoften feature defiant protagonists who run against the orderly, group mentality predominant in Japanese cultureâ€¦. Like his protagonists, Murakami is a vocal critic of Japanese policy, particularly its reliance on nuclear power.â€ť The Nobel Prize is often a political statement as much as a literary one, and in this increasingly anti-nuclear climate, Murakamiâ€™s views wonâ€™t go unnoticed.
Of course, Murakamiâ€™s not the only contender. Some 210 writers were nominated for this yearâ€™s Nobel Prize in Literature, some 46 of whom were nominated for the first time, according to the Swedish Academy.
Behind Murakami is Chinese author Mo Yan (12/1) and Dutch writer Cees Nooteboom (12/1). Tied for fourth are Albanian author Ismail Kadare (14/1), Syrian poet Adonis (14/1), and South Korean poet Ko Un (14/1). Cormac McCarthy is currently running at 16/1, Alice Munro at 20/1, Bob Dylanâ€™s rocking 33/1, and Jonathan Franzenâ€™s way down at 100/1.
The betting kinds would be wise to check out Michael Orthoferâ€™s deliberations on Literary Saloon before plunking down cash on a choice like Bob Dylan (â€ś....anyone who bets on Dylan is basically just handing the money over to them,â€ť writes Orthofer).
As for us, weâ€™re keeping our eye on Murakami and new names like Chinese writer Mo Yan, Italian writer and daughter of a Sicilian princess Dacia Maraini, and Spanish novelist Eduardo Mendoza Garriga.
Let the betting begin!
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.