2013 Nobel Prize For Literature

Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami is the favourite to win this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature, which will be announced at a ceremony in Sweden next month.

A perennial candidate for the prize and bookmaker’s favourite in 2012, Murakami is the most globally popular of the principal contenders for the this year's award, according to odds offered on Ladbrokes.com.

A previous winner of the Franz Kafka Prize and the Jerusalem Prize, the Japanese author is known for his surreal plots, use of Western pop culture and unadorned style. He has an enormous following both in his native country and abroad. Despite seldom appearing in public, the novelist was an early pioneer of the internet as a way of connecting with fans.

The author, 64, became a household name in his native country with his 1987 novel Norwegian Wood. A departure from his earlier work, its use of realism and simple plotting helped him to reach a larger audience and established Murakami as the voice of the Japanese baby-boomer generation. The book was adapted for the screen in 2010 by French-Vietnamese director Tran Anh Hung.

His eagerly awaited latest novel, Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, was published in Japan in April and sold more than one million copies in its first month of release. Similar in tone and style to Norwegian Wood, it tells the story of a man struggling with a traumatic event in his past, who uses a romance to get back on his feet.

His most recent novel to appear in English, IQ84, was a worldwide phenomenon and sold more than 1.5 million copies in Japan after its publication in 2009. Writing in the Telegraph, Matt Thorne noted that the book offers “a narrative experience few other authors could achieve”. However, Thorne also described its content as “morally questionable” and suggested that “the author has lost his way”.

Other favourites for the prize include the prolific American writer Joyce Carol Oates, winner of the 1970 National Book Award for her novelthem, and the Hungarian novelist and playwright Péter Nádas.

Two other greats of postwar American fiction, Philip Roth and Thomas Pynchon, are also on the list of names offered by Ladbrokes. Given Nobel permanent secretary Horace Engdahl’s 2008 comments that the “US is too isolated, too insular” in its literary culture, many observers will be interested to see whether the nineteen year wait for another American winner will continue.

(see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/10322801/Haruki-Murakami-is-bookmakers-favourite-for-Nobel-Prize.html )