October 9, 2012

Haruki Murakami is the odds-on favorite to win the Nobel Prize


The Nobel Prize in Literature

This year’s Nobel Prize in Literature will be given out this week, so it’s time to get your bets in! GalleyCat reports that Haruki Murakami is the favorite to win the honor for 2012, per British gambling website Ladbrokes. They give Murakami 2/1 odds, a fair bit higher than the writer with the next-best odds, Irish author and playwright William Trevor, whom they place at 7/1.

Proposals for the Nobel Prize are due to the Swedish Academy by February 1 each year, and by May they’ve been whittled down from about 220 proposals to five names approved by the Nobel Committee. Unlike some other prizes, the Nobel candidates are not publicly released prior to the announcement; in fact, they’re kept secret for fifty years, making the guessing game of who will get the award all the trickier. Nobody can win the prize without having been on the shortlist twice, nor without receiving more than 50% of the votes — so it is possible, like the Pulitzer, for no award to be given out. Since the award was first given out in 1901, this has only happened seven times — in 1914, 1918, 1935, and between 1940-1943.

Behind Murakami and Trevor on Ladbrokes’ list of possible winners are Mo Yan, Alice Munroe, and Péter Nádas at 8/1 odds each, with Bob Dylan not far behind at 10/1. Per the Guardian, last year’s favorite was the Syrian poet Adonis, who lost out to Tomas Tranströmer, though the difference in odds was slimmer then, with Adonis at 4/1 and Tranströmer at 9/2; and Adonis has fallen in the probabilities this year, down to 14/1.

The Swedish Academy will announce the winner of the Nobel this Thursday, and the prizes will be given out at a ceremony and banquet in December.



Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.