Nobel Lit: Swedish Provincialism

nobel-190Here’s why I love the New York Public Library: this morning, when I walked over to my local branch to return a book, I found a copy of “The Appointment,” a novel by new Nobelist Herta Müller (pictured), on the shelves. Here’s why I don’t love the Swedish Academy, which awards the prize: over the past decade, it has gone to European or Europe-based writers nine times. Meanwhile, the world’s most vital contemporary literature, arguably, is coming out of Africa. People like to criticize the Academy for being politically correct in its awards; but lately I’d say the more salient rebuke is that it is geographically narrow-minded.

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