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Who will win the Nobel Literature prize this year?

world Updated: Oct 09, 2014 16:40 IST
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With just hours to go for the 2014 Nobel literature prize, Kenya's Ngugi wa Thiong'o has emerged favourite with betting sites.

Close on his heels are popular Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami and Belarusian journalist Svetlana Alexievich.

Ngugi wa Thiong'o was the most probable pick according to bets placed with bookmakers Ladbrokes Thursday, and he was near the top at online betting sites Betsson and Unibet.

Pia Bergstroem, a literary critic at the Swedish daily Aftonbladet, considered the 76-year-old Kenyan one of the likely choices as well, calling him "a popular storyteller and a dyed-in-the-wool anti-colonial dissident."

Ngugi wa Thiong'o formerly worked in English and then switched to his native language Gikuyu. His work includes novels, plays, short stories, and essays, ranging from literary and social criticism to children's literature.

Murakami has been a regular favourite with Nobel-watchers over the last few years with his books like The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Kafka on the Shore and IQ84.

But many critics like Sweden's Elise Karlsson feel Murakami is probably a readers' favourite and that he lacks that extra depth.

Alexievich, a Belarusian investigative journalist and prose writer is known for her books The Boys of Zinc, on the Afghan war, and Voices from Chernobyl.

Other names doing the rounds are Adonis from Syria and a perennial contender, veteran Czech-born writer Milan Kundera.

But these are all just intelligent -- yet uninformed -- guesses as by convention the Swedish academy never gives any indication of the choice , or of the names that are considered and the deliberations are sealed for 50 years.

The $1.1 million Nobel Literature prize is keenly watched and debated, especially since the Swedish Academy has a reputation for picking authors relatively unknown to the English-speaking world, over ones more famous among critics and the public.

For instance, the choice of Austria's Elfriede Jelinek in 2004, who was largely unknown outside the German-speaking world, French writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio in 2008 and Chinese novelist Mo Yan in 2012 caught even critics by surprise.

English-speaking authors have won 27 times, compared to 13 times each for French-speaking and German-speaking winners.

The academy also takes into consideration poets, playwrights and other types of writers, and not just novelists.