Will the Nobel play it safe this year in order to restore its reputation tarnished by years of controversy? The usual suspects are getting the spotlight again this year as the announcement, which is scheduled at 8 p.m. Thursday, nears.
Foreign newspapers speculate that the Nobel would make a “safe” choice that would not lead to controversy because it has been mired in scandal for a recent few years. The Nobel was postponed in 2018 after the husband of an academy member was caught up in the “me too” scandal, while it faced strong criticism over its choice of Peter Handke as winner in 2019 who was found to have supported the genocidal regime of Slobodan Milošević.
“The secretive jury expected to play it safe in the wake of three years of controversy,” The Guardian said based on reports of the local media. “They will give the prize to a female author, who is not from Europe, and who is, in the political and ideological and appearance-wise sense, the opposite of Handke.”
Jamaica Kincaid, an American author who was born in Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean, has been tipped as one of the possible winners. Her novel “Annie John,” which draws on her experience of working as an au pair, has garnered much attention criticizing imperialism, gender roles and the antiquated education system, and she wrote many other books that address colonialism, racism and gender equality. Works of Canadian poet Anne Carson are said to have been closely examined. Carson has become famous for her unique works that are inspired by classics by recreating stories in modern language out of bits of decaying papyrus.
Betting sites are also used as an indicator of possible Nobel winners as much as experts’ speculations, as the nominations and the selection process are kept secret. Names tipped at British bookies such as Nicer Odds and Ladbrokes include Maryse Condé who wrote “I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem,” which follows black women who were sacrificed in witch trials in the 17th century in the United States. She won “New Academy Prize in Literature,” which was an alternative to Nobel Prize in 2018, for her works that detail the sorrow of African people living scattered across the world.
Japanese author Haruki Murakami, who has many South Korean fans, Canadian author Margaret Atwood, last year’s Man Booker Prize winner for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and dissident Chinese author “Yan Lianke” are also some of the “usual suspects” whose names are always brought up every year.