For writers, the Nobel Prize in Literature is our Super Bowl. It’s that time of year when we can let our nerd flags ripple in the wind of our asthmatic breath and weird out on our love of Milan Kundera (Managing Editor Lyz Lenz) or Haruki Murakami (Features Editor Christine Lee).
We at The Rumpus have made a few bad predictions for this year’s winners and have gathered them here, just for you, our fellow book geeks.
Me, for my tweets.
– P.E. Garcia, Editor-at-Large/Social Media Manager (who should win everything)
It’ll be Didion, because she’s unwell.
– Elon Green, Interviews Editor (who also votes for Geraldo Rivera)
My vote is for Haruki Murakami. He’s been the running favorite for years and never won. The Susan Lucci, if you will, of the Nobel Prize for Literature. I once stood in line for two hours to get his autograph, and hoped for inspiration through osmosis, as I do while reading his books (I have read every single one, including the unpublished ones). Also Kenzaburo Oe, a huge critic of Murakami, would be very pissed.
– Christine Lee, Features Editor (who gave the smartest answer so you can stop reading now)
Look, I’m only here to see Phillip Roth lose again. It gives me life.
– Lyz Lenz, Managing Editor (who beneath her devil-may-care attitude cries over Milan Kundera at least once a year)
The Nobel Committee doubles down, awarding the 2017 Literature Prize to a musician who *doesn’t even use language*. With an extensive saxophone discography and 75 million albums sold (not to mention his exceptional hair), the logical choice is Kenny G.
– Robbie Maakstad, Assistant Features Editor (who has all the good takes)
After this past year, there seems no better time to make baseless claims that an entirely unqualified candidate could win such a hallowed prize; My prediction for the winner of the 2017 Nobel in Literature is Andy Kaufman.
I know you’re thinking Andy Kaufman will never be a Nobel winner because, first of all, he’s an American and the Nobel Committee hates Americans. Second, he’s dead, a long standing disqualification for the prize, and lastly, Kaufman is a comedian. But it isn’t really so absurd to think a dead, American, comedian could win a Nobel Prize in 2017.
Americans are winning a lot more literary prizes these days, for instance, the Man Booker Prize. Americans were long excluded from even competing but in attempt to make the prize more relevant (profitable), the committee opened it up to Americans. The first American won just last year and now that we are allowed to compete for the Booker, like Olympic sports, we’re dominating the prize. Or we’re ruining it, depending on who you ask. But Americans are totally a thing now, after years of being discriminated against, so there is no reason to think the Nobel Committee wouldn’t want to get in on the action.
The bigger challenge Andy Kaufman might have to overcome is the rumors of his death. The 2011 Nobel Medicine winner Ralph Steinman, who died days before the ceremony, was nearly denied the prize even though he was alive when the Committee announced his name. But if 2017 has taught us anything, the world is filled with fake news. You don’t need Facebook to spread lies about Kaufman’s death. His alter ego, Tony Clifton, has been making appearances as recently as 2009, when he promoted Santos Party House, a club in New York City. Let’s be honest: only millennials are strong enough to kill Andy Kaufman.
As for Kaufman’s qualifications for the Nobel in Literature, I’m not going to suggest the committee’s standards have dramatically fallen after last year’s nomination of pop singer Bob Dylan. No, I would never insinuate that the aging prize committee simply wanted to meet their childhood hero and were supremely disappointed Dylan sent their email to the spam folder. Kaufman once read The Great Gatsby all the way through during a stand-up performance. Admittedly, he didn’t write the novel, only read from it, but it is a damn good book.
If the Nobel Committee is ever going to pick Andy Kaufman, it might as well be in 2017. After all, the way things are going, there might not be a 2018.
I hope it is someone who at least responds to the committee’s phone call.
– Tiffany Midge, Poetry Editor (who might never get over 2016)
This is a dark-horse choice, but my vote is for Jennifer Egan. She’s done as much as anyone to push the limits of what’s readable, emotionally raw, and popular in American fiction. If they continue their trend, though, they might look for someone in a different genre than fiction.
– Ben Pfieffer, Assistant Features Editor
My vote is for Margaret Atwood, because I need smart, world-changing women to win ALL THE THINGS these days, and am hopeful the Nobel committee feels similarly. Also, it’s very much the year of The Handmaid’s Tale, both because of the HBO show and all that Trumpian surreality that makes it seem plausible we’ll soon be living in a society like that of the The Handmaid’s Tale. Finally, I agree with Alex Shephard that following Bob Dylan’s win, this will go to a more “traditional” idea of a winner but I disagree that Atwood is a ‘celebrity’ and think she does fit the bill. I’d be happy with an Elena Ferrante win, too. Just please not a white cis American male writer. Please.
– Marisa Siegel, Editor-in-Chief (and runner of this matriarchy)
Who I Want: Anne Carson
Who I’d Like to See Win Because It Would Piss Off the Right People: Ursula K. Le Guin
Who’ll Win: Dudeley McDudeface from not-the-US
– Brian Spears, Senior Poetry Editor (who has been nicknamed Dudely McDudeface)
Everyone has mentioned my hopes: Didion, Atwood, and Murakami. I’ve been waiting for all three.
– Molly Spencer, Poetry Editor (who knows what’s up)