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Nobel literature head: US too insular to compete

Original post made by peter, Barron Park, on Oct 1, 2008

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) - Bad news for American writers hoping for a Nobel Prize next week: the top member of the award jury believes the United States is too insular and ignorant to compete with Europe when it comes to great writing.

Counters the head of the U.S. National Book Foundation: "Put him in touch with me, and I'll send him a reading list."

As the Swedish Academy enters final deliberations for this year's award, permanent secretary Horace Engdahl said it's no coincidence that most winners are European.

"Of course there is powerful literature in all big cultures, but you can't get away from the fact that Europe still is the center of the literary world ... not the United States," he told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview Tuesday. Web Link

If we had not saved Europe from the Nazis and stopped the USSR from invading there would be no free literature in Europe.

Comments (8)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2008 at 11:21 am

Have to agree when a country emulates great writing like Huck Finn which is unreadable to anyone outside. Is it even written in English?

Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 1, 2008 at 11:33 am


I'm with you with that one. I understand why it's considered a great work, but it was not an enjoyable read.

Engdahl sounds majorly full of himself though. Who was the last American Nobel laureate in literature? The over-rated Toni Morrison?

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 1, 2008 at 11:56 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

It is beginning to look like the rest of the Nobel prizes are going the way of the "Peace" prize into irrelevant posturing. Sweden - isn't that a suburb of Norway?

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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 1, 2008 at 12:24 pm

Weren't they saying that a century ago, before 10 American writers won the prize?

I think the honorable juror has strayed from literature into politics and condescension.

Like this comment
Posted by Greg K
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 1, 2008 at 3:45 pm

Let's be realistic, Americans do not read books. If we did, all the bookstores would not be going out of business. Americans watch TV.

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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 1, 2008 at 4:13 pm

A small two-seater Cessna 152 plane crashed into a cemetery early this morning in central Sweden.
Swedish search and rescue workers have recovered 3000 bodies thus far, and expect that number to climb as digging continues into the evening...

Like this comment
Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 2, 2008 at 12:46 pm

I think you just made Mr Engdahl's point for him, Sharon.

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Posted by Perspective
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 2, 2008 at 2:41 pm

Nobel prize in anything is highly political ( to the left) and completely irrelevant to the real value of the person's work.

Such a pity that it has lost its meaning, precisely because of the kind of posturing through the years that that Mr. E just did.

Can you imagine the uproar if any American said that an entire country was "too insular"?

Who was the guy who frankly admitted the prizes were political years after he was on the committee? Anybody remember?

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