Who will receive the Nobel Prize in Literature 2022?

If the Nobel Prize in Literature is a prize for social seismology, for shocks that were anticipated ahead of time, it will have to go to Frenchman Michel Welbeck this year at the latest. No one salutes our present so brilliantly, and has such a keen sense of the first gentle tremors and gradually emerging turmoil as this author. He often anticipates in his imagination what will happen in reality shortly thereafter – not exactly, of course, but with regard to what the situation requires.

Such was the case with his novel Submission, which was published on the day of the Islamist terrorist attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015. At the time, Hellbeck’s literary fiction was about the Muslim power grab in France. His latest novel “Vernichten” (2021), which he himself considers a primary extension of his formidable work, deals with video recordings of submarine attacks by “torpedo launchers”, which recall one of the underwater explosions caused by any secret device that he remembers. Baltic Sea pipelines Nord Stream 1 and 2.

Welbeck’s accounts of “convergent ignition” speak of a “rising column of water blasting into the gas bubble created by the explosion” and its force capable of tearing entire container ships apart. In the end, all that remains is a white crest in the sea, as we have just seen in the Danish aerial reconnaissance photos.

‘Information leakage’ about the Nobel Prize in Literature is a thing of the past

Of course, this is just a congenital association, a mental game, but what should you do if you just want to and bet the prize, donated by the Swedish inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel, on Thursday next week. Leaks in the Swedish Academy indicated that the “information leaks” that Michel Houellebecq writes about in “Extermination” may still exist in the past. Today nothing comes off the shortlist of candidates.

At least we know that this time there were 233 names on the long list of the prestigious award, which was awarded ten million Swedish kronor (about 920 thousand euros). That remains the secret of Svenska Akademien, who has been awarding the Nobel Prize for Literature since 1900 and whose members seek to do justice to the adjective “reverend”.

Scandal at the Swedish Academy

Swedish writer Kjell Spark died a few days ago at the age of 92. Literary historian Spark was Chairman of the Nobel Prize Committee for Literature for 16 years (1988-2004), was a member of the Committee for a total of 41 years and became very old as a result. It is not an isolated case. In connection with the academy crisis in 2018, Espmark announced his resignation, but then returned to the committee in 2019.

The scandal at the Swedish Academy had revolved around allegations against cultural director Jean-Claude Arnault, husband of then Academy member Catarina Frostenson. According to one claim at the time, Arnault became a sexual abuse of women. In 2018, the Stockholm Court of Appeal upheld the first instance ruling that sentenced Arnault to two and a half years in prison for rape.

The scandal led to several resignations within the Academy and eventually also to the fact that the Nobel Prize in Literature was not awarded in 2018, so there was a double award in 2019: for Paul Olga Tokarczuk (2018) and Austrian Peter Handke. (2019) – which led to renewed and widespread criticism of Handek’s political wanderings during and after the Yugoslav Civil War.

The newly established Nobel Committee

This year’s Nobel committee includes great contemporary writers such as Steve Sim Sandberg, who also gained fame in Germany with his documentaries “Die Miserable von Łódź” or “Theres”, which have also been translated into German. 64-year-old Sim Sandberg, who has been sitting in “chair 14” at the academy since 2020, is expected to make an interesting choice. Alongside him is 88-year-old Per Fastberg and 53-year-old writer Anne Sward, who, like Nobel committee member Elaine Mattson (60), was elected only in 2019.

Literary scientist Anders Olsson (73 years old), who has been sitting in chair No. 4 since 2008, has been there for a long time. That leaves 58-year-old Mats Malm (chair 11), who has also been relatively new since the 2018 crisis and has served as permanent secretary of the academy since 2019. One of his responsibilities is to get out of the Swedish Academy’s white double doors at 1pm CET on Thursday in October every year to announce the winner.

What bookmakers guess

In the lead up to the announcement, the literary world loves to stare at the odds that London-based bookmaker Ladbrokes have scored. Michel Houellebecq is currently at the top there, followed by Kenya’s Ngogo and Teongo, who is now 84 and may be aging due to his status as a permanent candidate. It has reliably appeared in the top spots in betting shops for years and years. Meanwhile, his highly regarded German publisher – Munich A1-Verlag – had to surrender. After all, paper versions of his works are available from other German-language publishers.

Salman Rushdie (“The Satanic Verses”) ranks third in Ladbrokes’ Nobel Prize for Literature and has once again been brought up for discussion. With his award, the Academy can send a clear signal of freedom of speech – and at the same time revel in the glory of the world-famous author.

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