The Nobel Lit prize

I'm not a great fan of the Nobel literature (or peace) prize -- I think some of their choices have been rather doubtful over the years -- but some wonder if this year will see a Middle Eastern writer win. There's certainly no shortage of possible candidates, as Moorishgirl writes:

Once again this year, there is mention of Mahmoud Darwish and Adunis, but I don't think it will go to them. (Why the academy has never selected an Arab poet is beyond me.) Michael thinks that Orhan Pamuk is too young, at 54, to get the prize. But Gabriel García Márquez was 54 when he got his. Plus, Pamuk has had a great year and with Turkey in the news over its ridiculous censorship law, that might just tilt the judges' votes in his favor.
I don't think Pamuk should get it either. I'm not a great fan of poetry generally (my loss, it's just I don't quite appreciate it, especially since my Arabic is not good enough to appreciate poetic constructions in the original) but Darwish or Adonis certainly have the right stature, even if I wish my favorite Arab poet, the Iraqi Abdul Wahab Al Bayati, were alive to claim one. There are Arab novelists who would be worthy, too, although some of the most worthy (e.g. Abdel Rahman Mounif) are now dead. On another note altogether, I don't think they should reward Middle Easterners only because it's the topic of the moment. How about a science fiction writer? Or a detective novel writer? Surely if they were alive Georges Simenon, Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells or Isaac Asimov would be worthy of inclusion.

Still, a Lebanese or Palestinian recipient would certainly be nice if only that it would draw attention to those countries' plight.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.