Friday, October 08, 2004

Elfriede Jelinek, Nobel Prize winner
The Nobel guessing game for literature is over. This year's Nobel laureate is the Austrian novelist and playwright Elfriede Jelinek (read the Nobel bibliographical notes here). The Nobel committee cites her "musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society's clich├ęs and their subjugating power." If you read German, she has her homepage here.

I gather that Jelinek was in nobody's shortlist to win this year's prize. Names bandied about were those of Vargas LLosa, Atwood, Adonis, Roth, Kundera, Ismail Kadare of Albania. As usual, the announcement of Jelinek's name has elicited dissent from the literati. Why, those in the know say, Peter Handke is the more deserving Austrian. An anonymous reviewer for Amazon has this to say:

The only point to the exercise, whether with the knife, or any of Jelinek's books, is to immerse yourself in the low, degraded, human experience of being a piece of meat and nothing more. This writing is on par with the notes left behind by the psychotics at Columbine, the rambling of the Unabomber, etc. There is no art here, and nothing to be learned.

I haven't read any Jelinek so I wouldn't really know. Amazon has four of her books for sale: The Piano Teacher, Lust, Women as Lovers, and Wonderful, Wonderful Times. To sample her kind of writing without placing an order online, you can read her take on Brecht and a piece called I want to be shallow.

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