Speculation mounts over Nobel Literature Prize

The 2006 Nobel Literature Prize laureate will be announced next Thursday, the Swedish Academy has said, with Stockholm's literary circles speculating over a slew of names for this year's winner including Amos Oz, Philip Roth, Adonis and Mario Vargas Llosa.

The permanent secretary of the Academy, Horace Engdahl, is scheduled to make the announcement in Stockholm next Thursday at 1pm.

In line with tradition, the Academy is keeping mum on its choice. But literature experts all have their own opinions on who is likely to win.

“The only thing that has been very clear, explicitly, is that witness literature is well-placed,” Jonas Axelsson, an editor at Bonnier, one of Sweden’s biggest publishing houses, told AFP, describing the genre as “literature that has witnessed reality”.

Israeli author Amos Oz thus would be “very appropriate”.

Horace Engdahl is known to be fond of the genre, having organized a symposium on witness literature in 2001 to mark the centenary of the first Nobel prizes.

And the 2002 and 2003 literature prizes went to writers in that style, Hungary’s Imre Kertesz and J.M. Coetzee of South Africa.

Czech writer Milan Kundera, US novelist Joyce Carol Oates, Polish literary journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski and Turkish author Orhan Pamuk have also been cited as possible winners, as have French novelist J.-M. G. Le Clezio, Algeria’s Assia Djebar and Doris Lessing of Britain.

Last year, the honours went to British playwright Harold Pinter.

The prizes for Medicine, Physics and Chemistry were awarded this week. The Economics Prize will be announced on Monday, October 9, and the Peace Prize on Friday, October 13th.

Each Nobel Prize this year carries a prize sum of 10 million Swedish kronor (1.37 million dollars, 1.07 million euros), shared if the prize is awarded to more than one laureate.

On Monday, the Nobel Medicine Prize went to US research duo Andrew Fire and Craig Mello for their discovery of how to silence malfunctioning genes, a breakthrough which could lead to an era of new therapies to reverse crippling disease.

The Physics Prize went to US space scientists John Mather and George Smoot on Tuesday for a pioneering space mission which supports the “Big Bang” theory about the origins of the universe.

Roger Kornberg of the United States won the Chemistry Prize on Wednesday for work on a key process of life called genetic transcription, building on Nobel prizewinning discoveries by his own father.

Front page photo: Henrik Montgomery/copyright: Pressens Bild/imagebank.sweden.se