Prize Artefacts

The Nobel Literature Prize went to Herta Müller today. These are the odds Ladbrokes were giving out yesterday. A fascinating cultural artefact, that list of odds, it raises so many questions -- e.g. why was Bob Dylan thought four times more likely to win the Prize than were Michel Tournier or Paul Auster?

M.A. Orthofer predicted Müller's win, having noticed her odds climbing from 50/1 to 3/1. He blogs “One lesson to be taken from this: the Swedish Academy has a big leak, and someone made a mint placing money on Müller at 50/1.” Orthofer's post also has links to more info about Müller.

Here's another cultural artefact -- Ted Gioia's provocative alternative list of Nobel Literature Prize winners for the last century or so. In some cases I prefer Gioia's choice to the actual winner, but in other cases not... generally his alternative list is way too biased towards those who write in English. But then how many people are both fluent and well-read in hundreds of different languages?

Hilary Mantel is quoted as saying, of the Booker Prize she won earlier this week, “It buys time. That's what an author wants." How terrifyingly true. Note that this is the first time ever that the winners of the Nobel Literature Prize and Man Booker Prize have had the same first and last initial. Imagine the odds you could have gotten from Ladbroke's on that...

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