The Nobel Prizes reached their peak of popularity when the betting house Ladbrokes was encouraged to do business with the possible list of winners. From that point on nothing can go less. What is missing in the Swedish Academy is ambition to continue growing in the opposite direction to what is expected. The more algorithm, the less case. This is what makes the Nobel Committee reliablebeyond some historical extravagances: by concession or by voluntary forgetfulness.
Swedish academics play their cards well. There seems to be a pattern of jury behavior, but almost no one can anticipate where it will go. The Jon Fosse thing was an old possibility, so insistent that not even he was surprised by the concession call. He was waiting for him without haste and without anxiety. Another thing is the election of the Tanzanian writer Abdulrazak Gurnah (winner in 2021). There was no god who suspected that. So those responsible are clear that any clue is possible; but even more likely is the fiasco of embracing social network speculation. The disappointments when the author that some expected does not come out of the hat is very comical. As if the Nobel Prize let them down. What’s more, as if Stockholm owed them something.
We won’t have such a good time again until next year. The social screening of candidates is entertaining. Far from the usual names, amplified a couple of days before the ruling on These are usually the most unlikely to achieve this. The solvent Nobel reading committee always finds a shortcut to avoid the majority wishes, and that is its best strategy. Sometimes they get it right in a superb way. When Wislawa Szymborska won, very few knew who this fabulous Polish poet was.. The same thing happened with Soyinka, with Herta Müller, with Tomas Tranströmer. And with the three Asians who have had it since 2000. Then there are group representatives (the British Kazuo Ishiguro, from the Granta Generation), Vicente Aleixandre (for the entire Generation of ’27). There are anointed ones that time has misplaced. And, finally, premature deaths who had to be buried with the medallion on their chest. Life as it is.
The Nobel is not a prize committed to anything. Not even with dynamite. Nor has it any real political vocation, although it plays a bit of everything. Sometimes he risks a break and hits the bullseye. I think of Svetlana Aleksievich and journalism. The best thing is the year that doesn’t reward our favorite author, because it gives us the opportunity to discover something new. But when the Nobel company agrees to engage in some opportunism, failing its alleged steppe scruples, it usually does so on secondary roads, with its back turned to the algorithm. Where few see it coming. One day they gave it to Bob Dylan. And he didn’t show up.