Nobel Prize Laureate: Louise Glück

Born in 1943 in New York, Louise Glück who lives in Massachusetts and is also a professor of English at Yale University, is this years recipient of the Nobel Prize for literature.

Glück was recognised for “her unmistakable poetic voice, that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal” said the Swedish Academy, which oversees the award.

Her poetry focuses on the painful reality of being human and pens down poems around themes such as death, childhood, and family life. (Nithya Nair)

A former U.S. poet laureate, Glück had already received virtually every honour possible for a poet, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for “The Wild Iris”

The book is a collection of 54 poems on the subject of gardening in which Louise Glück gives the flowers voices as they pass though their different stages. She also writes about the person tending the garden and the Almighty supervisor.

The Wild Iris

At the end of my suffering
there was a door.


Hear me out: that which you call death
I remember.

Overhead, noises, branches of the pine shifting.
Then nothing. The weak sun
flickered over the dry surface.

It is terrible to survive

as consciousness
buried in the dark earth.

Then it was over: that which you fear, being
a soul and unable
to speak, ending abruptly, the stiff earth
bending a little. And what I took to be
birds darting in low shrubs.

You who do not remember
passage from the other world
I tell you I could speak again: whatever
returns from oblivion returns
to find a voice:

from the center of my life came
a great fountain, deep blue
shadows on azure seawater.

For a writer, Louise Gluck’s poetry is an example of the efficacy of writing.

In an article for the Atlantic titled The Many Beginnings of Louise Glück , Walt Hunter cites the openings of two poems and clearly explains why these lines are perfect:

“Illuminations,” a poem about a child learning language by looking outside at the snow-covered world, starts with the line

My son squats in the snow in his blue snowsuit.

Another poem, “Happiness,” begins

A man and woman lie on a white bed.

These two images are remarkable not for their strangeness or novelty, but rather for their ordinariness and familiarity, and for their emergence from a kind of psychological family album. These single lines feel impossible to edit or to make more precise: Each has a figure (child, couple), an orientation (squatting, lying down), a place (snow, bed), and a single color (white bed, blue snowsuit). The simplicity of these images suggest exquisite craft and revision.

Because of the pandemic the Nobel Prize ceremony, normally held in Sweden in December, will be held in 2021.

For more information on Female Nobel Prize Laureates visit my series

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Nobel Prize Laureate: Olga Tokarczuk

 

olga-tokarczuk-WikiWikipedia

Olga Tokarczuk is the recipient of the 2018-2019 Nobel Prize for Literature. Although this prize is awarded to Olga Tokarczuk in 2019, she is actually the 2018 nomination. The prize was held over because of sexual abuse and financial scandals which led to a series of resignations in the Swedish Academy.  She is the fifteenth and second Polish writer to win this prestigious prize.

Flights

 

Ms. Tokarczuk is no stranger to receiving prizes for her literary works. In 2008 her novel Flights won the Nike award, Poland’s top literary award. In 2018 Flights took the Man Booker Prize for its translation into English by Jennifer Croft. 

Tokarczuk’s work focuses on peace, democracy and activism. In an interview with Claire Armitstead in The Guardian, Tokarczuk had this to say about a two-year book deal on detective stories:

But just writing a book to know who is the killer is wasting paper and time, so I decided to put into it animal rights and a story of dissenting citizens who realise that the law is immoral and see how far can they can go with saying no to it.”

In a fascinating interview with Adam Smith – Chief Scientific Officer of Nobel Media – Olga Tokarczuk speaks of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature as a symbol of hope for those worried about the ‘Crisis in democracy’ she sees facing central Europe.

For more on Female Nobel Laureates for Literature please visit my series. 

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Nobel Prize Laureate: Svetlana Alexievich

Svetlana Alexievich wins the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature.

An investigative journalist from Belarus, Alexievich is the 14th woman to win this prestigious prize and the first female Russian writer to do so.

What is unusual about her winning the prize for literature is that her writing is non-fiction.

Svetlana Alexievich

Source 

Literature is just a fancy word for writing says Philip Gourevitch in his The NewYorker article titled Non Fiction Deserves a Nobel.

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Nobel Prize Laureates: Who is Next?

Fourteen women have so far won the Nobel Prize for Literature. They are:

1909: Selma Lagertof (Sweden)

1926: Grazia Deledda (Italy)

1928: Sigrid Undset (Denmark)

1938: Pearl. S. Buck (USA)

1945: Gabriela Mistral (Chile)

1966: Nelly Suchs (Germany)

1991: Nadine Gordimer (South Africa)

1993: Toni Morrison (USA)

1996: Wistawa Szymborska (Poland)

2004: Elfriede Jelinek (Austria)

2007: Doris Lessing (Iran)

2009: Herta Muller (Romania)

2013: Alice Munro (Canada)

2015: Svetlana Alexievich (Belarus)

To know more about these Nobel Laureates click here .

Photo source

In his will, Alfred Nobel stated that his entire remaining estate should be used to endow “prizes to those who, during the previous year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind.”

In light of this, my choice for the next Female Nobel Prize for Literature is Taslima Nasrin, a writer from Bangladesh.

Photo Source

 Her novel Lajja (1993) is  a protest against torture, religious extremism and terrorism by Muslim fundamentalists.

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Nobel Prize Laureate: Selma Lagerlöf

The Swedish writer Selma Lagerlöf was the first female writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature (1909).

The SwedishAcademy awarded her the prize in appreciation of the lofty idealism, her vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings.

Lagerlöf is most widely known for her children’s book The Wonderful Adventures of Nils.

The book, intended as a geography primer for elementary schools, became a classic in children’s literature and was translated in several languages.  You can click here for a comprehensive description of The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, written by  Elysa Faith Ng,  an eleven year old child.

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Nobel Prize Laureate: Toni Morrison

 Toni Morrison’s first novel,The Bluest Eye was her effort to depict racial self-loathing and to question the standards of beauty in America.

In an afterword of the 1999 edition of The Bluest Eye Morrison states that “…even the casual racial contempt can cause devastation.”

 Award winning editor and writer Dorothy Allison wrote of  Morrison’s talent in handling the narrator, Claudia, of The Bluest Eye:

“It was the storyteller, Claudia, who looked at the world with unflinching honesty, the beauty, and the ugliness alike. I understood her the way she raked her own soul, holding herself responsible for sins she should  never have thought hers.”

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Nobel Prize Laureate: Nelly Sachs

In the unimaginable aftershock of the Second World War the German philosopher Theodor W. Adorno made the famous statement, ‘To write poetry after Auschwitz is impossible.’  It was Nelly Sachs, more than anyone else, who showed that it was not only possible, it was necessary.

Child

Child

With the burial of your head

seed capsule of dreams

grown heavy

with endless resignation

ready now to sow in another country.

With eyes

turned round to mother earth –

– Child

 

The Berlin-born Jewish poet (1891-1970) was arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo in 1938,  and in 1940, after being summoned to report to a “work camp,” she narrowly escaped to the neutral country of Sweden with her mother. Throughout the war they lived in poverty, occupying a one-room apartment in Stockholm. Sachs penned poetry that bears witness to the Holocaust and the tragedy of the Jewish people with words that were also universal, symbolic of the suffering and redemption of all humanity.

Nelly Sachs 1966.jpg

On the day of her seventy-fifth birthday, Nelly Sachs was awarded the 1966 Nobel Prize in Literature. She gave the money away, half of it to the needy, half to the friend who had arranged to get her out of Germany in 1940.

 At her Nobel reception, Ingvar Andersson of the Swedish Academy made the following comments to her:

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Nobel Prize Laureate: Pearl S. Buck

Pearl S. Buck

Although Pearl S. Buck was born in America, she spent the first forty years of her life living in China.

Her novel The Good Earth, which was instrumental in her winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938, was chosen as an Oprah book club selection.

Reading Pearl Buck’s writing feels like reading poetry to me. I just love the quiet rhythm of the words. They evoke the simple beauty of the characters and the harsh mystery of China’s ancient culture. —Oprah

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Nobel Prize Laureate: Gabriela Mistral

Gabriela-Mistral-1941

Mistral’s works, both in verse and prose, deal with the basic passion of love as seen in the various relationships of mother and offspring, man and woman, individual and humankind, soul and God.

A dedicated educator and an engaged and committed intellectual, Mistral defended the rights of children, women, and the poor; the freedoms of democracy; and the need for peace in times of social, political, and ideological conflicts, not only in Latin America but in the whole world. She always took the side of those who were mistreated by society: children, women, Native Americans, Jews, war victims, workers, and the poor, and she tried to speak for them through her poetry, her many newspaper articles, her letters, and her talks and actions as Chilean representative in international organizations.

Source: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/gabriela-mistral

But it is her poems on food that I most love as shown in these delicious samples:

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Nobel Prize Laureate: Elfriede Jelinek

jelinek

“The Piano Teacher” – a novel of lust and domination written in the biting style that, in the Swedish Academy’s description, reveals “the absurdity of society’s clichés and their subjugating power” – was No. 1,163,804 on Amazon.com’s sales rankings early Thursday, according to The Associated Press. By Friday, it had climbed to No. 9.

Oh, what a Nobel  Prize will do to your sales!

Austrian novelist and playwright Elfriede Jelinek was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize for Literature.

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