Thursday, October 8, 2009

And the Noble Goes to...

Have you read any of Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio’s books lately? Hmm. Or maybe you’ve recently picked up 2006 Noble Winner Orphan Pamuk’s Snow.

I don’t want to give the impression that the prize is politically motivated or is a kind of Lifetime Achievement Award, although it does raise brows and draws new readers to the chosen one. Whatever drives new readers is great for literature. To draw to the literary landscape today is a great challenge as we already know. Whatever the motivation to pick up Herta Mueller’s work is well worth it.

I’m a firm believer in expanding the literary landscape. Writing style, subject matter, and rules of syntax lure readers to their favorites, but I’m one who approaches my reading like my wine. I relish a diverse sample. I’m not hung up on Kirkus Reviews, plugs from Slate, or tweets from Salman Rushdie. I read what I read.

Some might consider mine an eclectic, unfocused approach— cherry-picking. I call it stylized discrimination. A healthy lust for poetic memes. But, seriously, I don’t pretend to have the inside dope on all the words, critical and otherwise. I take the Socratic approach, I admit I knowing nothing and work from there.

I am a slow reader and want to experience a book for the work of art it is. In other words, I cannot speed read so I wouldn’t bother reading the plethora of airport fluff. I do take recommendations. I will not pigeonhole everything. I’m a New Yorker, I honor our sacred bird.

So far I know this about our 2009 Noble Laureate. She began her career in 1976 translating for an engineering factory, and was canned in 1979 because she wouldn’t play by the Communist regime’s rules. Herta’s husband Richard Wagner is also a novelist.

I’m not sure if I’ll start with Ms. Mueller’s debut collection Niederungen or Oppressive Tango as I’ve always had a weakness for the Argentine dance. I will make it a point to acquaint myself with her work because I want to expand my reader and writer’s eye.


The Noble Prize in Literature has been awarded since 1901. The only years that no awards for literature have been given are: 1914, 1918, 1935, 1940, 1941, 1942, and 1943.

No comments:

Post a Comment