It is that time of the year when followers and lovers of literature begin to predict or speculate about the possible winner(s) of the highest award in literature - the Nobel Prize in Literature. Every year several names pop up at several sites and blogs in articles that explain why one author deserves to be awarded more than the other and why others need not to be awarded. In fact, some of the arguments, debates and discussions have been geocentric with some readers and followers bashing the Swedish panel for being too Eurocentric; this is because no American has won the award since 1993 when Toni Morrison - that intelligent writer and Champion of the African (sorry) Black American history - won the award, though several names like Philip Roth, Bob Dylan, Cormac McCarthy, Don DeLillo and Thomas Pynchon are always bandied about at various places. Since the award began in 1901, only four Africans have won the award; Wole Soyinka, 1986; Naguib Mahfouz, 1988; Nadine Gordimer, 2001; and J.M. Coetzee, 2003.
Horace Engdahl responded to this Eurocentricism criticism, saying:
Europe is still the center of the literary world [and that] the US is too isolated, too insular. They don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature.
In the last two decades, there has been one winner from America (Toni Morrison, 1993), one from Africa (J. M. Coetzee, 2003) and one from Asia (Kenzaburo Oe, 1994). There has also been a Chinese winner, Gao Xianjiang, in 2000 who is a citizen of France. Two individuals from Latin America, Mario Vargas Llosa from Peru and Spain (2010) and Derek Walcott from Saint Lucia (1992), have also won the awards. The remaining 15 have gone to Europeans: Seamus Heaney (1995), Ireland; Wisława Szymborska (1996), Poland; Dario Fo (1997), Italy; José Saramago (1998), Portugal; Günter Grass (1999), Germany; V.S. Naipaul (2001), United Kingdom & Trinidad and Tobago; Imre Kertész (2002), Hungary; Elfriede Jelinek (2004), Austria; Harold Pinter (2005), United Kingdom; Orhan Pamuk (2006), Turkey; Doris Lessing (2007), United Kingdom; J. M. G. Le Clézio (2008), France and Mauritius; Herta Müller (2009), Germany and Romania; and Tomas Tranströmer (2011), Sweden.
With the first week in October set to give us another Nobelist, several names have started coming up. Africa has not been left out from the speculative lists with names like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Chinua Achebe, Ben Okri, Ngugi wa Thiong'o and others.
The Question: Whom do you predict to win the Nobel Prize in Literature this year and why do you think so? Will the prize be in Europe or will America be finally recognised once again? Will Africa gets its fifth Nobelist?