The most prestigious lifetime award for literature, The Nobel Prize, will be announced on Thursday at 7 a.m. EST [UPDATE: We originally miscalculated the time difference. We THINK we have it right now. The announcement is scheduled for 11 a.m. GMT and Eastern Time is GMT minus 4:00].
Famously hard to forecast, it is an award that often befuddles odds makers as names circle around in the wind days before the announcement.
Last year the favorite was Japan’s Haruki Murakami with Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Belarusian author and journalist Svetlana Alexievich also in the running.
The winner? French novelist Patrick Modiano who had just 10/1 odds three days before the 2014 announcement.
Modiano had few books translated into English at the time. The Telegraph‘s news story was headlined “Patrick Modiano: the Nobel Prize-winner nobody had read.” Since, there has been a boom of translations, bigger publishing houses buying rights, and a string of articles focused on his work in such places as the L.A. Times, The New Yorker, and The Millions.
The luckless odds makers at betting firms Ladbrokes and Paddy Power seem to be fully baffled this year. The Guardian reports the bookies are simply rearranging their 2014 picks, leading with Svetlana Alexievich and offering Haruki Murakami and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o as back up.
Americans Philip Roth and Joyce Carol Oates and 2005 Booker winner, Irish writer John Banville are also in the mix as are Korean poet Ko Un and Hungarian writer László Krasznahorkai, winner of the Man Booker International award.
It could be Murakami’s turn based on frequency alone. The Wall Street Journal says it has become “a seasonal event over the past few years for Mr. Murakami’s name to pop up as a frontrunner.”
He was a favorite in 2013 as well (the year the prize went to Alice Munro). Quite naturally Murakami finds the speculation and horse race aspects of the run up to the announcement “quite annoying,” reports the paper.
If this is finally Murakami’s year, readers will have plenty of his titles in English to choose from, so many that Matthew Carl Strecher, who has written 3 books on Murakami, was able to select “The 10 Best Haruki Murakami Books” for Publishers Weekly.
But Murakami might be annoyed for at least another year. The Guardian quotes one of the lead bookmakers, Alex Donohue of Ladbrokes, as saying, “literary speculators believe we’ll see the winner come from out of leftfield.”
It is no small prize to win. On top of the profound honor and a considerable cash award, it increases book sales.