October marks the announcement of the Nobel Prize for literature; this year we are pining for a Nuruddin Farah win.
In 1901, five years after the death of Alfred Nobel, a new prize was awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite and other high explosives. Seeing this blog focuses on the literature world, it’s only fair we focus on the first writer to win it; Sully Prudhomme. The French poet and essayist was awarded the prize, “in special recognition of his poetic composition, which gives evidence of lofty idealism, artistic perfection and a rare combination of the qualities of both heart and intellect.
Africans didn’t darken the doors at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm, Sweden until 1986 when Wole Soyinka became the first one of us miros to go home with the prize. Since then, the prize has been won by other residents of Africa, specifically Nadine Gordimer, JM Coetzee and Doris Lessing who was born in what is now known as Zimbabwe.
The Nobel Prize is said to have been postponed and will be announced on October 13th next Thursday and we are all waiting with baited breath for the winner. As expected, the speculation about who will go home with the big prize is getting to fever pitch. For the last couple of years, one writer from Africa has been coming up a lot as a possible winner of the award with Ngugi Wa Thiong’o always on the list. We here at this blog also speculated that this could be the year for the old man of Kenyan letters only for the prize to go to Belarusian investigative journalist, ornithologist and prose writer Svetlana Alexievich.
While doing the blog about the announcement, we decided enough is enough. If people kept speculating about a win for Ngugi, then it can’t have been a fun time for the old man every October as his name was bandied about. In the spirit of spreading the stress to another writer, the African writer who we believe is a shoo in for NOT winning the prize is Nuruddin Farah.
Nuruddin Farah is a Somali novelist who has also written plays both for stage and radio, as well as short stories and essays. Since leaving Somalia in the 1970s he has lived and taught in numerous countries, including the United States, England, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Sudan, India, Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa. Some of his books starting with his debut novel From a Crooked Rib (1970) include A Naked Needle (1976), Territoires Serpent à Plumes (2000) and Hiding in Plain Sight (2015). He has also written numerous other works in a variety of genres.
Farah describes his purpose for writing as an attempt “to keep my country alive by writing about it”, and for Nadine Gordimer he was one of the continent’s “true interpreters”. You heard that right. A former Nobel Prize winner rates him highly; that must mean something to the prize winning committee surely.
With these arguments in his favour, we here believe that he too is worthy as anyone of being Africa’s “diversity entry to the Nobel Prize for Literature that fails to win” in 2016. If he doesn’t win it this year, the baton of which “African could win the Nobel Prize” will be passed on to Ama Ata Aidoo. Good luck Mr Farah.