German Writer Herta Mueller Wins 2009 Nobel Prize

Sorry, Joyce, not this year.

Despite recent pro-American comments by a member of the Nobel literature prize, writers in the United States failed again to win the world's most prestigious award.

Instead, the Nobel Prize for Literature went to a Romanian-born novelist and poet named Herta Mueller. The winner of a number of awards in Europe, the 56-year-old writer, who now lives in Berlin, is not well known in this country, where her works have appeared infrequently.

In 2002, Picador released a paperback edition of "The Appointment" about life under the repressive communist regime in Romania. Her third novel, "The Land of Green Plums," was favorably reviewed in the New York Times in 1996.

The Swedish Academy said this morning that Mueller writes "with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose [and] depicts the landscape of the dispossessed." The $1.4 million prize will be given in Stockholm on Dec. 10.

Last year, a member of the Nobel literature jury angered writers and critics in the United States by claiming that "Europe still is the center of the literary world" and that American writers were too trendy and pop to win the Nobel. But just two days ago, a prominent member of the literature jury, Peter Englund, seemed to signal a shift in that attitude when he suggested that America was back in the running. The prolific novelist Joyce Carol Oates was high on many lists of potential winners (although Israel's Amos Oz was considered the frontrunner.) The last American winner was Toni Morrison in 1993.

* This version corrects an earlier version that incorrectly attributed the comment about the trendiness of American literature to Peter Englund.

By Ron Charles |  October 8, 2009; 7:11 AM ET Ron Charles
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Good old Washington Post.
Writes about the winner, about the American
briefly, very briefly...

but asserts that an Israeli was the "frontrunner".

As when three winners in physics got the prize, two Amerians--who got a brief mention--and one Israeli, who got a quote and a paragrph of further explanation.

Nothing describes so well the interest of the WashingtonPost. It's all too obvious.
Israel first. In war AND peace.

Posted by: whistling | October 8, 2009 10:27 AM

I'm happy to learn that American writers are perhaps back in the mix for the Lit-Nobel. I was so pulling for Updike. I also hope that Roth might still get it. As for Joyce Carol Oates, I've always had this feeling (or more likely "hope" again) that she might be awarded late in life--something like Doris Lessing.

Speaking of Oates, I read recently that she said that everyone thinks of how prolific she is but in reality she spends most of her time looking out the window.

Posted by: lheffelkcrrcom | October 8, 2009 11:29 AM

Congrats to Ms. Mueller. Don't dwell on the fact that we are here, the rest of the world is there and we who are here scratch our heads and say, 'Who is THAT?'

Posted by: KathyWi | October 8, 2009 12:19 PM

I hope Mr. Charles will one day recognize the irony in his focussing on issues of nationality, when Herta Mueller, both as a person and in her work, shows the ambiguity and elusiveness of just such concepts.

Congratulations to Herta Mueller, she deserves it!

Posted by: cpwdc | October 8, 2009 1:21 PM

There have been numerous struggles in the rest of the world that just have not happened here. And what has happened here is not being written about in the manner of the authors who have won the Nobel. Not by Roth and Oates. (If only it were Philip Hall.) I really don't think they are the type that the Nobel committees go for, yet they are wonderful writers. Next year, I'd put bets on Adonis or Murakami over Roth and Oates.

@whistling, you might want to look at Oz's history. I imagine it must be pretty hard for a Jew to get the Legion of Honour in France.... oh, and as for the prize in physics, the winners were Kao, Boyle and Smith. So what the heck are you talking about? Even though Kao was born in China, they are all US citizens.

Posted by: prokaryote | October 8, 2009 1:59 PM

The only way any American will read something from Herta Mueller is if she sends them a text message. We don't read in this country!

Posted by: CubsFan | October 8, 2009 2:36 PM

Interesting to see the negative comments here instead of congratulatory statements. It would appear that there are too many sour grapes over this Nobel Prize winner who the committee felt was the best of the other candidates, despite the diappointment that whomever we wanted to win did not.

So, congratulations to Ms. Mueller who has now been introduced to the rest of the world (outside of Germany & Europe) via Stockholm. Perhaps her body of work will be translated into English by someone familiar enough to get the translation right...

That being said, I myself was saddened to learn that once again Algeria's Assia Djebbar was passed over for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Inch'Allah Next Year she will at long last be recognized for her contribution in literature, film and academia.

(And, for poster #1: The Israeli Oz was listed by many as the forerunner for this prize...days before the winner was announced. Ms. Djebbar was listed as 2nd with Ms. Oates trailing in 3rd.)

Posted by: GazelleDZ | October 9, 2009 8:55 AM

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