Friday, October 9, 2009

Nobel Time Again.

Success! Someone managed to translate, print, and sell last year's Nobel Lit Laureate's "best known" work in time for me to read it before this year's Nobel Lit Laureate was announced. About 2oo8's winner, J.M.G. Le Cl├ęzio's Desert:

I quite enjoyed it. I have long been interested in the Tuareg, and the nomadic peoples of North Africa in general. I found the translation from the French to be quite good, to the point that I would like to buy the novel in the original, to admire the language. The whole was nice enough that I was willing to overlook the Big Interesting Missing Part in the middle. The whole Person From Remote Village Arriving in Big European City part. The elision did raise the risky question of what part of a literary work cannot be removed. This is a major issue, because the answer seems to be no part at all.

On to this year's winner. First, congratulations. Second, I don't expect to be looking for the most famous works in the original German. Sorry, German, you're just not so sexy as French. Those poor verbs. I shall wait the months until the best-known novel appears in English.

As for the prizes themselves, not to deride the winners, but you are becoming, shall we say, Balkanized? Best European Author Award? Shall we start voting for next year? Nearly Demolished Former Yugoslavian? Abused French Muslim? Repressed Gay Spaniard? I'm hoping for a Transsexual Basque, writing in a dialect that cannot be translated into American English.

We're such a bunch of illiterate, unworthy slobs, after all.