Female Nobel winners diversity and the Nobel


I was  thinking  of a discussion about the winners of Nobel .After seeing a tweet from Peirene press about how many female winners of the Nobel Literature prize their have been .There have been thirteen in all –

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2013

Alice Munro

“master of the contemporary short story”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2009

Herta Müller

“who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2007

Doris Lessing

“that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2004

Elfriede Jelinek

“for her musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society’s clichés and their subjugating power”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1996

Wislawa Szymborska

“for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1993

Toni Morrison

“who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1991

Nadine Gordimer

“who through her magnificent epic writing has – in the words of Alfred Nobel – been of very great benefit to humanity”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1966

Nelly Sachs

“for her outstanding lyrical and dramatic writing, which interprets Israel’s destiny with touching strength”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1945

Gabriela Mistral

“for her lyric poetry which, inspired by powerful emotions, has made her name a symbol of the idealistic aspirations of the entire Latin American world”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1938

Pearl Buck

“for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1928

Sigrid Undset

“principally for her powerful descriptions of Northern life during the Middle Ages”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1926

Grazia Deledda

“for her idealistically inspired writings which with plastic clarity picture the life on her native island and with depth and sympathy deal with human problems in general”

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1909

Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf

“in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings”

Thanks to Nobel for the list of winners , it seems they are addressing the lack of Female winners in a way with 4 female winners in the last decade . I have mentioned the possible winners in my last few Nobel prediction posts but there isn’t many women on this list .Svetlana Alexievich , Joyce Carol Oates , Lydia Davies , Dacia Maraini are among the names mentioned to win in recent years I would add Dasa Drndic and Marie D’Naiye myself from female writers in translation I have read .So I feel as Peirene pointed out there is a need for more female winners and maybe more diversity in General a few more African winners .I feel the fact the Nobel have lists of female winners and have said they are getting advice on world lit these day means we may have something to look forward too .

Where to start with Svetlana Alexievich any one ?#

Any suggestions for a female winner of the Nobel Lit Prize ?


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kaggsysbookishramblings
    Aug 13, 2015 @ 17:49:06

    I would suggest Margaret Atwood – I think she’s amazing. I saw that list Stu, and felt very embarrassed that I’ve only read Doris Lessing. But I do have a Herta Muller book on the pile!


  2. MarinaSofia
    Aug 13, 2015 @ 18:06:02

    Goodness, have there really only been 13? I thought there were more than that…
    I have to admit I haven’t read anything by Grazia Deledda.


  3. Lisa Hill
    Aug 13, 2015 @ 23:42:54

    I would suggest Alexis Wright. I don’t know if she has a big enough body of work (but then Elias Canetti only wrote one novel, Auto-da-fe) but IMO she fulfils the Nobel brief in the sense that she does something unique: her storytelling style is like a songline of indigenous thought as I understand it to be. It offers an understanding of our landscape that it different to how non-indigenous people perceive it and it draws on indigenous storytelling from the oldest living culture on Earth.
    I have no idea how the Nobels work, so I don’t even know if they are aware of her.
    Having said that, Australia’s Gerald Murnane is certainly on their radar, and so he should be. He is an extraordinary author and his international profile is growing. That’s why I don’t like the idea of geography being a factor: if Wright and Murnane both deserve it (and I’ve read enough Nobel winners to know that they do) then one should win it one year, and the other the next, and the fact that they both come from Australia should be irrelevant.


  4. N@ncy
    Aug 14, 2015 @ 05:29:32

    I’m currently reading prize winners on my own #NobelReadingChallange.
    It never dawned on me to notice if it was a male/female author!
    Good news: read 22 Nobels….
    Bad news: read only 1 woman!
    Thanks for ‘ opening my eyes’ and the next Nobel I read will be wirtten by ‘une femme’.


  5. Tony
    Aug 15, 2015 @ 10:54:04

    Are there that many female writers out there that are likely to receive the prize any time soon? I must say that I have my doubts, not because of quality, but simply because of a lack of exposure outside their home country – very likely that the next female laureate will be another Anglophone writer (Oates, Attwood…).


    • winstonsdad
      Aug 15, 2015 @ 11:54:36

      Yes and a few that may have Djebarfor example have died I always think there is the unkown factor the last two german female winners have been less known to English readers so there is people we may not know of that well Modiano for example wasn’t a name on a lot tongues til last year


  6. Trackback: That was August on winstonsdad | Winstonsdad's Blog

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August 2015


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