Tue
Oct 4 2011 9:03am

Nobel Prize for Literature Awarded Thursday; Don’t Hate

Those Nobel folks announce the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday—and let’s just take a moment and agree that, as primarily romance readers, we will shush ourselves if we find ourselves making assumptions on a genre we don’t read.

Because if we say something like ’Oh, I’ve never heard of XandSo,’ or ’I saw that book in the bookstore, it didn’t look all that special’ or even ’I read that book, it wasn’t great,’ then we are being just as ruthlessly damning as those people who don’t read romance and assume that they know everything there is to know about it, just because they read in general, or have seen a few covers, or even read one once.

Yes, having an opinion about a book or author you’ve read is fine, and you shouldn’t have to know everything about an author or a genre to make a judgment if you like it or not (judging a priori dates back to Euclid, stretching through Plato onto Kant, who made it his own). Please feel free to say what you thought of Haruki Murakami’s book, if you read it. But offering up opinions on an international literature prize when you’ve only read that book, and none of the others in consideration? Nor having read usually within that genre?

Not cool. As bad as if someone came along and dissed romance novels because they’re all the same, and how could one be significantly better than another?

Yeah. Sounds familiar, right? So don’t hate.

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3 comments
MilenaB
1. MilenaB
Honestly, if Assia Djebar is awarded, I will have nothing but respect, because she's amazing, both as a woman and as a writer. But Murakami? Not so much. And, in opposition to his own opinion (if I remember correctly - I think he said once that his early novels were not much good) I find his earlier works better than the newer ones.
Megan Frampton
2. MFrampton
@MilenaB: It sounds as though you know what you're talking about, so thanks for commenting. I tried to read one Murakami, but didn't enjoy it, mostly because I struggled to understand it. My issue as a reader as opposed to his skill as a writer.
Wendy the Super Librarian
3. WendyCrutcher
I just hope they pick someone who has at least had a small handful of books printed here in the States. I mean, I know they're not going to pick an American writer - but please, could we stop making librarians' and booksellers' heads explode?
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