Last Thursday was a big day for fans of literature, because the new winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature was going to be announced. I was very surprised when Kazuo Ishiguro won, but I’m much more pleased with him than with last year’s winner, Bob Dylan.
I watched the announcement with some friends and I have to say we all are kind of… dedicated. One of us even skipped class to see the announcement. The three of us are all avid readers and we all had an informed opinion on who would be a good candidate. Throughout the year, we’ve had a lot of discussions on which writers would have a chance this year. I started out hoping for Margaret Atwood, but at the end I put my metaphorical money on the Korean poet Ko Un (metaphorical only because the broker’s website didn’t work. I was ready to place a real bet on this). My friends thought Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o made a good candidate, and we were all fearing Murakami would win.
So Thursday we made a big thing out of the announcement. We all gathered at my house to watch it live, we had Turkish bread with humus and aioli, and dates wrapped in bacon, and as the moment of the announcement came closer we grew extremely excited. Finally the doors opened and we became dead silent to try to figure out the name of the winner from the Swedish text. When we finally heard “Kazuo Ishiguro,” we all were completely flabbergasted. Nobody expected him to win! He wasn’t even on any of the lists we read online. And we weren’t the only ones that were surprised. Normally, you hear the journalists at the announcement cheer when they hear the name, but they were all dead silent.
Now, I don’t mean to bash Ishiguro, I don’t think that he didn’t deserve the prize. I just didn’t expect it, at all. I think there were a lot of other good candidates, maybe even better ones. Ishiguro has some interesting works, he works with intriguing themes, there’s nothing wrong with him. So far, I have only read one of his books, Never Let Me Go, which I thought was okay. I liked the plot and the themes of the book, although I thought some of the details were a bit easy. It was an okay novel, but not worthy of a Nobel Prize. However, Never Let Me Go isn’t his best work, and yesterday I got The Buried Giant, so I’m interested to see if Ishiguro can convince me with this novel.