Nobel Literature Prize 2017: Will Handmaid’s Tale earn top award for Margaret Atwood? –

He recounted how during a visit to Portugal in the 1990s, he was approached by then president Mario Soares.

“He walked up with Jose Saramago and said ’You give the prize to this guy.’ Saramago was so embarrassed he wanted to disappear,” Espmark recalled.

The Academy, which had already been mulling Saramago for the prize, found itself in a tricky situation, he said: Should they turn their backs on Saramago, or ignore Soares’ blunt move?

They ultimately honoured Saramago in 1998. He remains the only Portuguese-language writer to win the Nobel, though Antonio Lobo Antunes’ name regularly appears in the speculation.

“This year I think it’s going to be either Antonio Lobo Antunes or Ismail Kadare from Albania. Both of them are writers who have been tipped for the Nobel for a long time, and both of them are names that when they are read out, everyone will think ’Ah, of course they deserve the prize’, and there’ll be no objection,” said Dagens Nyheter’s culture editor Bjorn Wiman.

At the Hedengrens bookstore in central Stockholm, owner Nicklas Bjorkholm has set up a wall with books by possible winners, including Spain’s Javier Marias, Americans Joan Didion and Don DeLillo, Poland’s Olga Tokarczuk and David Grossmann of Israel.

His personal favourite for the prize is Korean poet Ko Un because, he insists, “the time has come for a non-anglophone and an Asian”.


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