"Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book.”
Patrick Modiano – that is this year’s Nobel Prize winner in Literature. I admit I have never heard of him before. I will probably never read a book of his. And that is something that frustrates me. Every year I am curious who is going to win the Nobel Prize in Literature and almost every year I get disappointed about the result. Am I not happy for the writer? I am very happy for every single winner but there are two things that absolutely disappoint me.
The first one: Patrick Modiano writes about the occupation of France by the Nazis during World War II. My first reaction was: not again! I cannot hear/read it anymore! Look at all the Nobel Prize winners and count how many have written about World War II, about Nazi Germany, about Jews. It has been almost 70 years. Is there nothing else people can write about? It seems like no matter which country you are from if you want to win a Nobel Prize in Literature, write about World War II and Nazi Germany. There are billions of books and movies about this topic. And I know it is something we all should know about and learn from but in the last 70 years so many world changing things have happened. So many countries have experienced wars and social changes. Family stories have been written and books published about cultures that changed so much but for some reason the Nobel Prize committee picks authors who write about World War II over and over again. Please widen your horizon! Praise authors who have written about their homes and their countries, authors who do not write about World War II.
The second thing: At the day of Modiano’s win his writing style was described as “difficult to read”. By now the Swedish Academy has released a statement that says his books are NOT difficult to read but to be honest I would not be surprised if they were. I have read some books by a few Nobel Prize winners and most of them had a very special writing style. Why is that? Does the winner have to be someone most people will not enjoy reading so that the few people who do are the selected elite who are intellectual enough to understand his writing? Is the Nobel Prize winner only for the higher and smarter society and not for the common people? Would not an author who manages to reach everyone, even people who hardly read, and who can bring across the meaning and moral of his books to everyone be more suitable for the Nobel Prize? In every other category the winners have discovered or accomplished something that has an impact on the whole society. But every year the Nobel Prize in Literature is given to someone most people not only have never heard of but also most people will never read. Because even if they are interested in the winner’s books and decide to buy one after they heard about this author, they usually do not read or finish even one book because the writing style is just so special.
The Nobel Prize in Literature is the most and least interesting category to me every single year. Every other category has an impact on my life in one way or another. The Nobel Prize in Literature does not. As an avid reader that bothers me. I would love to read more Nobel Prize winners but I cannot bring myself to spend the little free time that I have to read about stories I have read a thousand times and in a writing style that I just do not enjoy. So I will be curious again next year but I doubt I will be any happier than this year.