Annie Ernaux and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o start as favorites in the Nobel Prize in Literature bets

La novelista Annie Ernaux, retratada en la sede parisiense de la editorial Gallimard.
The novelist Annie Ernaux, pictured at the Paris headquarters of the Gallimard publishing house. Daniel Mordzinski

Until the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Mats Malm, reads in Stockholm the name of the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature this Thursday, October 7 at 13 hours (CEST) will not stop speculation, bets and nerves between writers, readers and publishers. The most prestigious award and one of the best gifted in international literature – 10 million Swedish crowns, which is almost a million euros in exchange, is surrounded by intrigues, ominous absences and recent scandals. The plot of the award created in 1901 certainly makes for a good novel.

A classic to orient yourself every October on speculation surrounding the prize is usually the list of the British bookmaker Ladbrokes. Although, as the American critic Alex Sheperd recalls from The New Republic, unraveling the riddle and guessing the winner It is not an easy task: he has been failing systematically for six years, and although he is clearly not the only one, he knows how to count it with grace.

El escritor keniano Ngugi wa Thiong, en Barcelona.
The Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong, in Barcelona. JOAN SÁNCHEZ

The French writer Annie Ernaux starts as a favorite in 2021, together with the Kenyan novelist Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, in the bets of the London house -of Ernaux will be published in Spanish this month their newspapers gathered in Get lost (Cabaret Voltaire) -. Ladbrokes is a good thermometer to understand the feeling of the reading public, although not so precise when it comes to predicting the jury’s decision. Last year the winner, the American poet Louise Glück, was in the tail of the bets, far behind, for example, the also Canadian poet and essayist Anne Carson.

El poeta sirio Adonis, en una entrevista en Madrid en enero de 2019.
The Syrian poet Adonis , in an interview in Madrid in January of 2019. inma flores (THE COUNTRY)

It is also very well located this year on that list, as on previous occasions, the Japanese Haruki Murakami, and there are names that never fail like Don Delillo or Salman Rushdie, although the general opinion is that their possibilities are not many. The Guadeloupean novelist Maryse Condé or the Chinese Can Xue could have more ballots if the Academy decided to award a non-European or North American author. The Syrian poet Adonis does not figure this year in the bets, but he is always one of the names that are on the lists of connoisseurs. And the truth is that after awarding the award to Bob Dylan in 2016 and in 2016 to the Austrian Peter Handke – whose political positions in the war in Yugoslavia caused this recognition to raise a long controversy -, it is difficult to see which side the decision of the Academy will fall on .

Javier Marías is the only novelist in the Spanish language that appears on the Ladbrokes list, from which Latin Americans are absent as Ida Vitale or Raúl Zurita. The Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse and the Romanian Mircea Cărtărescu join the quota of fixed European candidates on the Nobel lists for another year. On the women’s front, Hilary Mantel, Margaret Atwood and Edna O’Brien also appear at the London auction house. And to the east are Lyudmila Ulitskaya and Dubravka Ugrešić.

Edna O'Brien, en uno de sus viajes a Nigeria con víctimas de Boko Haram.
Edna O’Brien, on one of her trips to Nigeria with Boko Haram victims.

Applications for the award of 2021 were closed on 31 of January and April, when the 18 members of the Academy began their deliberation sessions , there were only 20 left. According to the Academy itself, before the summer the list was already five. This Thursday it will be known who was saved and was victorious this time. To lighten the wait, why not go through the list of all those who never won it, put a candle in Philip Roth or John Ashberry or Marguerite Yourcenar or Borges or spend time in reading rebellion watching some of the films that talk about the Nobel Prize for Literature, such as The Good Wife or The Illustrious Citizen ?

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