How has the Swedish Academy traditionally chosen writers to honor with the most important award for writers? Plus a roundup of Latin Laureates
The Swedish Academy chooses yearly an author from any country who has produced “in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”, according to the Nobel Prize’s official website. This year, British-Japanese novelist Kazuo Ishiguro was chosen because “in novels of great emotional force, [he] has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world”, as stated in the official press release.
Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954, and his family moved to England in 1960. The 62 year old author has published 7 novels: his latest one was The Buried Giant, published in 2015. He has also written screenplays, short fiction, and lyrics, and he is one of the most celebrated contemporary authors of the English speaking world.
Before he was announced as this year’s Nobel laureate in literature, there was a lot of speculation as to who would receive the award. With Bob Dylan’s win of last year, boundaries were broken, and the Swedish Academy showed the world that it was not particularly traditionalist. Usually, authors that have been awarded the Nobel Prize have been considered classics in their countries’ traditional literature, and Bob Dylan was considered a classic of popular music and pop culture, than of highly erudite literature. However, the Swedish Academy picked him “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. More so than his prose, genre Dylan has also explored, he was awarded the Nobel for his work as a lyricist, which had not happened ever before.
Nobel Laureates in Literature in Latin America
Latin American authors also make part of the list of Nobel Laureates. The first Latin American writer to be awarded the Nobel was Gabriela Mistral in 1945. Mistral was a Chilean poet chosen “for her lyric poetry, which inspired by powerful emotions, has made her name a symbol of the idealistic aspirations of the entire Latin American world”. As the reason given by the Swedish Academy states, Latin American authors have traditionally been chosen for their influence in the region.
After Mistral, Colombian Gabriel García Márquez was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1982. Other Latin American authors that have achieved the honor include: Pablo Neruda, Miguel Ángel Asturias, Octavio Paz, and Mario Vargas Llosa. All of these authors are considered some of the most important cultural representatives of their countries or of their region. In fact, in 2015 a fist edition of what is generally considered García Márquez’s best work, One Hundred Years of Solitud, was stolen from an exhibition at Bogotá’s International Book Fair, and the theft almost became a national tragedy. These authors also have had highly relevant involvement in the public spheres of their countries. For instance, Peruvian Vargas Llosa has been involved in politics since the Cuban Revolution in 1959, and he has stayed involved in his country’s political sphere until recently. This goes to show that literature in Latin America, and in the world, is highly political, and therefore so is the Nobel Prize.
Latin American Post | Laura Rocha Rueda