This year, the top contenders are thought to be:
|Joyce Carol Oates||25/1|
|Antonio Lobo Antunes||25/1|
|Ngugi wa Thiong'o||33/1|
|William H. Gass||80/1|
|F. Sionil Jose||100/1|
I got this list from Ladbrokes, the English oddsmakers. Apparently, they give odds on anything.
I spend an inordinate amount of time reading about literature and I still don't recognize maybe 40 percent of these writers. And some of the names I only know because I've seen them before on other lists of Nobel contenders. I admit to having a western bias and only reading in English so I know a huge chunk of the world is beyond my purview. But it is weird to have a Syrian poet and a Swedish poet top the list. Even if they are richly deserving of it. Which they very well may be.
Of the names on this list, my clear favorite is the Irish novelist and short story writer William Trevor. His only serious competition should be from Philip Roth - but Roth is said to have alienated some of the Swedes who award the prize so he is unlikely to win even though he deserves to.
I am also rooting for A.S. Byatt, Alice Munro, and Don DeLillo. I've already ordered Haruki Murakami's new book so it would be nice if he were to win. I like Paul Auster and Ian McEwan and have read most all of what they have written but I just don't see it happening for them. And now that John Banville writes crime novels in addition to the serious (and difficult to read) fiction that made him famous, he would be a fun choice. It would be great to have Benjamin Black show up in Stockholm to accept the prize.
As far as names not being mentioned by Ladbrokes but still meriting consideration? John le Carre would be a nice choice (I've only recently started to read him but I suspect many would recognize that he is a great writer who happens to write about espionage and is not just a writer of spy novels). Mavis Gallant, the Canadian short story writer - I think she's worthy. My 'I know it is crazy to even suggest it' choice would be Stan Lee. His body of work is simply amazing and I suppose there are other writers of comics who write better dialogue but the fecundity of Lee's imagination trumps all in my view. Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, the Hulk, X-Men, Daredevil, Thor, Iron Man and so many others. Really, just Spider-Man alone should be enough. I know he hasn't written everything these characters have done and that Jack Kirby probably has an equal share in many of them. Still, to be a major creator of what (in another one of my crazy, best not said aloud theories) is our modern equivalent of the mythology of Greece and Rome, I think that deserves the Nobel.