Whilst it seems rather undignified to bet on something like the Nobel prize for literature, as all literary prizes are a bit of a lottery I shouldn’t really be surprised. So, as we enter the final straight toward’s the announcement of the winner on Thursday (BST), latest figures put out by Ladbrokes have Kenyan writer Ngugi Wa Thiong’o at 7/2, Japan’s Haruki Murakami (the eternal literary bridesmaid) at 9/2, Belarusian Svetlana Alexsijevitj at 6/1 and Syrian poet Adonis is 10/1. Back in the field are people like Philip Roth at 12/1 and Bob Dylan at 25/1. Alex Donohue, Ladbrokes CEO, said that Philip Roth is currently the most popular writer with the punters this year even though they lost out last year when Alice Munro galloped home the winner.
Peter Englund, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, gave an insight into the judging process on the Academy site: “In February all the received nominations, usually a bit over 200, are reviewed. They are then processed by the Nobel committee. The work is supported by the Academy’s own employees, but also outside experts are hired for translations, statements and the like. First, we make a list of over 20 names. From this, we eventually make a shortlist of five names. The shortlist is discussed and approved by the Academy in its entirety in May. Then the members have the summer to learn about the five authors on the shortlist. When the Academy then meet again in mid-September, it is always the Nobel prize that is the top priority. We usually have agreed on a decision in early October.”