Oct 232002

Colby Cosh is irked, faintly, quaintly, that the Booker Prize was awarded this year to some nonentity, instead of Muriel Spark, Anthony Burgess, J.G. Ballard, Martin Amis, or Peter Ackroyd. Since some people apparently still take this stuff seriously, let’s go straight to the top. The following authors never won the Nobel Prize for Literature:

Leo Tolstoy
Henry James
Yevgeny Zamyatin
James Joyce
Ernest Hemingway
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Mikhail Bulgakov
Vladimir Nabokov

That’s just American, British and Russian novelists. (Don’t even get me started on poetry.) But you can only give out so many Nobels, after all, and you have to make room for Rudolf Eucken and Rabindranath Tagore and Pearl Buck and Odysseus Elytis and Dario Fo and Günter Grass and…so many mediocrities, so little time.

Colby commends the Booker committee for putting William Trevor on its short list, remarking that a “stopped clock is right twice a day.” It was another stopped clock, the poet-traitor Ezra Pound, who wrote, “Prizes are always a snare.”

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