Protests grow as Peter Handke receives Nobel medal in Sweden

The literature laureateship, due to be presented in Stockholm on Tuesday, faces boycotts and widespread protest

As Turkey joins Albania and Kosovo in boycotting Tuesdays Nobel prize ceremony for Peter Handke over his support for Slobodan Milosevics genocidal regime, war correspondents from Christiane Amanpour to Jeremy Bowen are protesting his win by sharing their harrowing stories from the conflict in the former Yugoslavia.

The Austrian writer, whose stance on the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s and attendance at Milosevics funeral have been widely criticised, is due to receive his Nobel medal in Stockholm, where a large protest demonstration is expected.

Bosnian Swedish writer Adnan Mahmutovic, who is organising the protests, said there had been a huge negative response to Handkes win in Sweden.

We hope that our voices tonight will help us start a dialogue about the consequences of continuous genocide denial that has been going on for decades. Genocide is not an event but a process whose last phase is denial. We cannot let our Nobel legacy legitimise it, he said.

A digital mural on the side of a Sarajevo shopping mall protests against the awarding of the laureateship to Handke on Tuesday. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Last week Peter Englund, a member of the Swedish Academy, which selects the winner, announced he would boycott the ceremony, saying: To celebrate Peter Handkes Nobel prize would be gross hypocrisy on my part. On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed Handke on television, saying the Nobel has no value granting the Nobel literature prize on Human Rights Day to a figure who denies the genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina is nothing less than rewarding human rights violations. Turkeys ambassador to Sweden, Hakki Emre Yunt, also announced he would not attend the ceremony.

Albanias acting foreign minister Gent Cakaj has instructed the countrys ambassador to Sweden to boycott the ceremony, as is Kosovo, with its ambassador to the US, Vlora itaku calling Handkes win a preposterous and shameful decision.

Journalists who covered the war in Bosnia, meanwhile, are protesting Handkes win by describing what they saw during the conflict using the hashtag #BosniaWarJournalists.

I was there. We all know whos guilty, wrote Amanpour, the chief international anchor for CNN who covered the war as a young reporter.

My colleagues #BosniaWarJournalists are outraged so we are posting our work to remind the world of what happened there. Never forget, wrote foreign correspondent Janine di Giovanni. In Sarajevo, Id go to the morgue to count dead: Children, women, soldiers, horrors of that unjust war laid out on a slab. What BosniaWarReporters like me saw was relentless attacks on civilians. Genocide. Please speak out against Handke getting Nobel.

The BBCs Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen wrote: I reported all the Yugo wars. Saw monstrous crimes. Later testified at war crimes trials, inc those of Bosnian Serb leaders Karadzic & Mladic.

Former foreign correspondent Emma Daly said that she will never forget walking around the mass graves holding hundreds of men & boys who were blindfolded, shot & buried on farmland near Srebrenica. We know Milosevic was responsible.

The New York Timess Roger Cohen, sharing a link to his 1994 story about a Serbian concentration camp, wrote: shame on Nobel Committee and Swedish King for handing Nobel literature prize to Peter Handke, who calls the Bosnian genocide myth.

Journalist Peter Maass, who was told on Friday by Handke that his questions about the Srebrenica massacre were empty and ignorant, wrote on Twitter that the legacy of the Swedish royal family, who will award the Austrian author his medal, will be that they authenticated a genocide denier.

Handke has claimed that the Muslims staged their own massacres in Sarajevo and then blamed this on the Serbs, also casting doubt on the massacre of thousands of Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995. In an essay for the French newspaper Libration in 2006, he wrote: Lets stop comparing Slobodan Milosevic to Hitler and lets never again use the expression for the camps installed during the Yugoslav war concentration camps.

True, there were intolerable camps between 1992 and 1995 in Yugoslavia, especially in Bosnia. But let us stop mechanically linking, in our heads, these camps to Bosnian Serbs there were also Croatian camps and Muslim camps, and the crimes committed there, and there, are and will be tried in The Hague, he wrote. And finally, lets stop linking the massacres (amongst which, in the plural, those in Srebrenica in July 1995 were by far the most abominable) to Serbian forces or paramilitaries. Let us also listen to the survivors of Muslim massacres in the many Serbian villages around Srebrenica.

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Wait, be patient, keep faith: an unlikely mantra for life | Alice OKeeffe

In these turbulent times, we can all learn from novelist Anna Burnss creative process for opening her mind, says literary critic Alice OKeeffe

Sometimes, for us bookish types, a particular moment in time requires a particular author, as surely as a bout of winter flu requires paracetamol. So I was very glad to find myself, last Thursday in that nervous/tragic/hopeful gap between voting and seeing the exit poll at a talk by Anna Burns, the Man Booker prize-winning author of Milkman. Ive been thinking about her perspective on life and art a lot this week, and it has been medicinal.

Burns has a very particular creative process. She says that she cant force her writing; if she tries to get grabby it doesnt work. Her method, therefore, is to wait sometimes for years for her characters to start to talk to her. This involves turning up at her computer and pretty much just sitting there. Its a bit like meditation, she explained. Sometimes she makes notes, although this is really just a way of managing her anxiety. She goes on a lot of walks. But the real task, she told us, is to wait and hold to create the mental space, to stay patient, and to keep the faith that eventually the characters will appear and take her where she needs to go.

Her message of persistence and patience has helped me get through a week of otherwise bitter disappointment. It is quite a radical approach in an everything now society. After all, we are conditioned to think that the way to get what we want is to do more to work longer hours, to knock on more doors, to shout ever more loudly on social media. But we cant actually force the world to give us what we want. There are times when we need to push, but there are also times when we do just have to wait, and create the space, and keep the faith that if we hang in here, eventually something will shift.

This approach is not for the faint-hearted. Although sitting around doing nothing for days on end may sound easy, in practice it would drive most of us round the bend. Now Ive won a big prize, everybody takes my artistic process seriously, Burns said. But for years people just thought I was mad. It means her output is not prolific, consisting of just three novels and one novella, and she endured years of grinding poverty before Milkman broke through (she famously thanked her local food bank in the acknowledgments). She has also had to abandon her writing entirely for long periods of time, due to a chronic pain condition and emotional stress.

And yet what she has achieved is a work of piercing insight and lasting value. As last years Booker prize, judges recognised that Milkman transcends its setting in war-torn 1970s Northern Ireland, and evokes universal truths about conflict, power and human relationships. More than anything, Burnss novels show, in terrifying detail, what happens to a society when people close their minds. Milkman explores a culture in which people have become obsessed with defending their own perspective, against anything they see as other.

In the small community of the Ardoyne, Belfast, all of life has become about keeping out this dreaded enemy the people from across the water, or even just over the road. This is done by the violent enforcement of endless obscure and unspoken rules. Any tiny deviation from these rules having the wrong name, or reading a book while walking, or describing the sky as anything other than blue marks you out as one of them.

Britain in 2019 has not reached those extremes. But we are undeniably drifting towards a very Milkman-esque othering mentality, clinging ever harder to our own view and perspective, and rejecting those of other people, whether they be over the water in Europe or over the road. And we have a dizzying array of social divisions: between rich and poor, young and old, north and south, English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish

An important weapon against this small-mindedness is the kind of contemplation that Burns uses in creating her work. Extended periods of contemplation play an important role in many different religious traditions because they can help open us up to new and different perspectives. And writing and reading fiction perhaps appreciating any kind of art similarly requires us to open our minds. When Burns sits and waits for her characters to speak to her, she is creating space in her head for a new perspective on the world. And when we read her books, we are allowing those characters to speak to us. As we look for ways to resist the seemingly unstoppable tide of division, perhaps trying, like Burns, to wait and hold is the most important work that any of us can do.

Alice OKeeffe is a literary critic and author. Her latest novel is On the Up

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McDonalds Replaces Happy Meal Toys With Our Favorite Childhood Books To Encourage Kids To Read

With more and more kids enslaved to the screen from as young as they can remember, the push to ensure that children are still able to get lost in a book and let their imaginations roam free is more important than ever.
Over in New Zealand, the giant fast-food chain recognizes this and has replaced the tacky plastic toys you would often find in a Happy Meal with the whimsical works of Roald Dahl, a renowned children’s author that my generation grew up on.

Image credits: McDonalds

“The Happy Meal Readers programme is all about helping parents to get their children to enjoy reading,” said Jo Mitchell, director of marketing at McDonald’s New Zealand.
“The Roald Dahl characters are ones that many parents will have enjoyed growing up, and it’s great to play a part in introducing them to a new generation.”
The scheme is a positive step to arrest declining literacy rates, especially among teenagers, in some western countries.

Image credits: McDonalds

However, it could be argued that it is parents, and not giant fast food corporations, that should be at the front line of the battle to keep kids reading. Books are available for free at your local library, so you don’t need to expand your kids’ waistlines in order to expand their minds!

Image credits: dadness

The books, which also include activities and stickers, feature extracts from Dahl classics such as The BFG, Matilda, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Because really, it would be incredibly unfair if the next generation were to miss out on these wonderfully weird adventures.

Image credits: McDonalds

Not only are these kinds of Happy Meals helping kids to stay curious, but they are better for the environment too. Gone are the tacky, cheap plastic toys that would, in most cases, go directly to the landfill or even worse, the ocean.

Image credits: PrincessAdveturesTV

Image credits: dadness

Image credits: MadeMeSmile

Image credits: McDonalds

Image credits: beingtillysmummy

Image credits: dadness

Image credits: dadness

Image credits: beingtillysmummy

Here’s what people had to say about the new happy meals

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Fetishizing books is not the same thing as loving reading

Disclosed book on a table. Close-up.
Image: Getty Images

If you follow a lot of people who watch a lot of Netflix, then you’ve probably spent a lot of 2019 so far watching them argue about books. Specifically, about Tidying Up with Marie Kondo‘s approach to books.

“Keep your tidy, spark-joy hands off my book piles, Marie Kondo,” gasped The Washington Post. “Marie Kondo, back off! Why this book hoarder refuses to tidy up,” declared Cnet. On Twitter, some bibliophiles expressed shock and horror, while others reacted to that shock and horror with snark and bemusement

Kondo’s method for books is exactly the same as her method for pretty much anything else you might find in a home, like clothing, sporting goods, or kitchen gadgets. Yet it’s only the books that have provoked this level of disgust, and that’s because a lot of people have no chill when it comes to what other people might be doing with their books. 

Though this particular Kon-troversy is new, it’s really just the latest in a long series of book-related outrages over the years. 

Last year’s was the collective hand-wringing over backwards bookshelves. Before that was the outrage over books getting cut up for crafts. There’s been huffing over shelves curated by color and selfies over piles of open books, and disagreements over whether a large stack of unread books is cause for pride or shame

What all of these scandalous actions have in common is that they don’t actually affect anyone at all but the person making them. Instagram influencers aren’t sneaking into your home to rearrange your shelves, and Kondo isn’t signing legislation to outlaw large book collections. (She actually encourages you to keep your books if the thought of discarding them makes you mad.)

Why, then, do some bibliophiles get ranty at photos of spine-in books, or see red when a Kondo client throws another novel in his discard pile?

For many, it has to do with what books represent. Books don’t exist solely to spark joy! Books are objects of wonder, and souvenirs of our personal journeys! Our collections reflect our tastes and our personalities, and express them to any curious visitors who might come looking. They’re not mere decorative pieces or functional tools, and only a non-reader would treat them as such.

Books may mean a lot to some readers, but they don’t mean the same thing to all readers.

Or maybe they would. 

Books may mean a lot to some readers, but they don’t mean the same thing to all readers. A skimpy shelf could mean someone hates books, or simply that they prefer ebooks and libraries. An overstuffed one might be just as self-consciously curated as a streamlined one. Those spine-in volumes could belong to someone who loves reading and favors a minimalist aesthetic.

There’s a difference between loving reading and fetishizing books. While there’s nothing wrong with the latter, it’s worth acknowledging the difference — if only so we can collectively stop flying into a blind rage whenever some Facebook rando shares a photo of the secret book safe they just DIYed. 

There are exceptions and caveats, of course. Books that are rare or very old should probably be saved and preserved. Newer books could probably be donated or recycled, rather than trashed, for the sake of the environment. It also goes without saying that I’m talking here about personal collections; it’s obviously a much bigger problem if the government starts burning books, or a public library reorders them all by color just for the ‘gram. 

As a general rule, though? Mind your own books, and let other people mind theirs. 

If you can’t wait to KonMari some boring books out of your life, have fun tidying up. If you’d rather die by a billion paper cuts than let go of even one single volume, hold on to them for as long as you’d like. If you’d like to stock up on vintage volumes you won’t read to make yourself look smarter, or if you love judging people by their book collections — honestly, knock yourself out. 

Whatever you decide to do, though, remember that it’s not the bound stacks of printed paper that matter. It’s what they do, what’s inside them, and what they mean to you that does. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to cut everyone else a break for whatever they’re doing with their own piles of paper. 

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Stephen King sells short story film rights to students for $1

Stephen King is all about those student films.
Image: WireImage

For anyone hoping to make their mark in the world of horror movies, you’d think a Stephen King adaption would pretty much be the holy grail.

For some students at Blaenau Gwent Film Academy in Wales, UK, though, it’s a reality.

The Academy recently signed a contract to adapt “Stationary Bike”, a short story featured in King’s collection Just After Sunset. And they only had to pay $1 to do it.

“We knew already that Stephen King was excellent at supporting education establishments,” tutor Kevin Phillips explained to Mashable. “[And] we came across this website where, actually, he releases many of his short stories for adaption, you know non-profit of course.”

Phillips is referring to the “Dollar Babies” section of Stephen King’s official site, which allows film students to request the rights for a selection of his short stories which currently aren’t under contract.

“We pretty much emailed his secretary, Margaret, and she came back to us in 24 hours, and we told her what we wanted to do, that it’s not for profit, that our students would be making it, and she sent us a contract through which was signed by Stephen King himself,” said Phillips. 

After filling in some forms and posting back a dollar, the Academy had official confirmation a few days later.

‘Just After Sunset’ contains a number of short stories currently available under the ‘Dollar Babies’ scheme.

Image: sam haysom

The students of Blaenau Gwent Film Academy are in good company. King’s been granting students Dollar Baby rights since the 1970s, and some previous adaptations — notably The Shawshank Redemption director Frank Darabont’s 1983 version of “The Woman in the Room” — have marked the start of some pretty big film careers.

Two students — 16-year-old Alfie Evans and 14-year-old Cerys Cliff — are now working on adapting “Stationary Bike” into a script. Once it’s ready Phillips thinks around 30 students will likely work on turning it into a film. A large chunk of the story takes place in a single room, so the plan is to film most of it in the backstage area of a local theatre. By next March or April, Phillips hopes, the finished film should be ready.

So will Stephen King be watching it?

“They insist that we send him a copy,” Phillips said. “That was part of the contract — Stephen always loves to see the work and please send him a DVD when it’s all complete.”

After that it’ll be a case of submitting the finished short to film festivals.

“The main thing is that it’ll be used to boost the confidence of our young, up-and-coming film-makers to actually say that they’ve worked on a Stephen King film,” Phillips said. 

“It won’t only boost their confidence, but it’ll also enhance their CVs and hopefully stand as a stepping stone to further their careers.”

Who knows — in 10 years’ time, one of them could even end up making the next Shawshank Redemption.

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Steve Jobs refused to admit that he named the Mac precursor Lisa computer after his sometime-estranged daughter

Steve Jobs may have been a visionary, but to his sometime estranged daughter, he was far from perfect.
Image: Justin sullivan/getty images

Growing up, Lisa Brennan-Jobs felt that, to her father, Steve Jobs, she was a “blot on a spectacular ascent.” 

The memories she shares in an excerpt from her new memoir, Small Fry, paint a complicated, but still tender, picture of the evolving relationship between restrained father, and desirous, at times estranged daughter.

Brennan-Jobs shared an excerpt from her upcoming memoir in Vanity Fair on Wednesday. Notably, Brennan-Jobs reveals that for years, her father denied that he named the Mac precursor Lisa computer after her — which Jobs finally admitted, only in answer to a question from Bono.

“That’s the first time he’s said yes,” I told Bono. “Thank you for asking.” As if famous people needed other famous people around to release their secrets.

Brennan-Jobs is the daughter of Steve Jobs and Chrisann Brennan, born when her parents were just 23. For years, Jobs denied paternity, and Brennan raised her daughter as a single mom, living on welfare and odd jobs. A district attorney finally sued Jobs for child support in 1980, and a DNA test confirmed paternity. From that point on, Jobs became an occasional presence — and sometime source of pride, or, more often, heartbreak — in Lisa’s life.

In the excerpt, Brennan-Jobs depicts Jobs through the eyes of a confused little girl looking for love in the face of an austere father. She writes clearly about a puzzling figure and the volatile role he played in her life. She also shares emotionally complicated memories about their imperfect relationship, and his final days before he died from cancer in 2011. 

I assigned mystical qualities to his zipper teeth, his tattered jeans, his flat palms, as if these were not only different from other fathers’ but better, and now that he was in my life, even if it was only once a month, I had not waited in vain. I would be better off than children who’d had fathers all along.

In life and especially since his death, Steve Jobs stands as a towering figure in history — a visionary and a genius. But he is also known for his micromanaging, his ego, and his temper. Brennan-Jobs’ memoir adds another face to the prism of Jobs, showing that Jobs may have been a world-changing titan, but also, a maddening, tragic, and perhaps ultimately repentant father. 

Small Fry will be published in September 2018. You can see more details on Amazon.

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We Photographed Hundreds Of The Most Beautiful Chickens, And Just Look At Them!

I’m Matteo and I’m a professional photographer. I’ve always been fascinated by the beauty of birds.

In 2013 I decided to go in search of a Concincina as a pet for my studio garden in Milan. That’s when I met Giorgio, a farmer who invited me to an aviary exhibition.

That very same day, the Concincina hen Jessicah (cue Unchained Melody) stole my heart.

My friend and work partner Moreno joined me in this passion/madness and we started to take pictures of literally hundreds of chickens and roosters.

Just look at them. They are beautiful. And they know it.

Eventually, we ended up with enough material to think about publishing a book. That’s why we just launched a Kickstarter campaign.

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‘Hurtful’ Harper Lee and Mark Twain dropped from Minnesota curriculum

To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn to be dropped from Duluth area classes because of uncomfortable atmosphere their use of racial slurs creates

‘Hurtful’ Harper Lee and Mark Twain dropped from Minnesota curriculum

To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn to be dropped from Duluth area classes because of uncomfortable atmosphere their use of racial slurs creates

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is the neoliberal face of the black freedom struggle | Cornel West

The disagreement between Coates and me is clear: his view of black America is narrow and dangerously misleading

Ta-Nehisi Coates We Were Eight Years in Power, a book about Barack Obamas presidency and the tenacity of white supremacy, has captured the attention of many of us. One crucial question is why now in this moment has his apolitical pessimism gained such wide acceptance?

Coates and I come from a great tradition of the black freedom struggle. He represents the neoliberal wing that sounds militant about white supremacy but renders black fightback invisible. This wing reaps the benefits of the neoliberal establishment that rewards silences on issues such as Wall Street greed or Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and people.

The disagreement between Coates and me is clear: any analysis or vision of our world that omits the centrality of Wall Street power, US military policies, and the complex dynamics of class, gender, and sexuality in black America is too narrow and dangerously misleading. So it is with Ta-Nehisi Coates worldview.

Coates rightly highlights the vicious legacy of white supremacy past and present. He sees it everywhere and ever reminds us of its plundering effects. Unfortunately, he hardly keeps track of our fightback, and never connects this ugly legacy to the predatory capitalist practices, imperial policies (of war, occupation, detention, assassination) or the black elites refusal to confront poverty, patriarchy or transphobia.

In short, Coates fetishizes white supremacy. He makes it almighty, magical and unremovable. What concerns me is his narrative of defiance. For Coates, defiance is narrowly aesthetic a personal commitment to writing with no connection to collective action. It generates crocodile tears of neoliberals who have no intention of sharing power or giving up privilege.

When he honestly asks: How do you defy a power that insists on claiming you?, the answer should be clear: they claim you because you are silent on what is a threat to their order (especially Wall Street and war). You defy them when you threaten that order.

Coates tries to justify his defiance by an appeal to black atheism, to a disbelief in dreams and moral appeal. He not only has no expectations of white people at all, but for him, if freedom means anything at all it is this defiance.

Note that his perception of white people is tribal and his conception of freedom is neoliberal. Racial groups are homogeneous and freedom is individualistic in his world. Classes dont exist and empires are nonexistent.

This presidency, he writes, opened a market for a new wave of black pundits, intellectuals, writers and journalists one that Coates himself has benefited from. And his own literary dreams of success were facilitated by a black neoliberal president who ruled for eight years an example of Black respectability, good Negro government.

Coates reveals his preoccupation with white acceptance when he writes with genuine euphoria: As I watched Barack Obamas star shoot across the political sky … I had never seen so many white people cheer on a black man who was neither an athlete nor an entertainer. And it seemed that they loved him for this, and I thought in those days … that they might love me too.

There is no doubt that the marketing of Coates like the marketing of anyone warrants suspicion. Does the profiteering of fatalism about white supremacy and pessimism of black freedom fit well in an age of Trump an age of neo-fascism, US style?

Coates wisely invokes the bleak worldview of the late great Derrick Bell. But Bell reveled in black fightback, rejoiced in black resistance and risked his life and career based on his love for black people and justice. Needless to say, the greatest truth-teller about white supremacy in the 20th century Malcolm X was also deeply pessimistic about America. Yet his pessimism was neither cheap nor abstract it was earned, soaked in blood and tears of love for black people and justice.

Unfortunately, Coates allegiance to Obama has produced an impoverished understanding of black history. He reveals this when he writes: Ossie Davis famously eulogized Malcolm X as our living, Black manhood and our own Black shining prince. Only one man today could bear those twin honorifics: Barack Obama.

This gross misunderstanding of who Malcolm X was the greatest prophetic voice against the American Empire and who Barack Obama is the first black head of the American Empire speaks volumes about Coates neoliberal view of the world.

Coates praises Obama as a deeply moral human being while remaining silent on the 563 drone strikes, the assassination of US citizens with no trial, the 26,171 bombs dropped on five Muslim-majority countries in 2016 and the 550 Palestinian children killed with US supported planes in 51 days, etc. He calls Obama one of the greatest presidents in American history, who for eight years … walked on ice and never fell.

It is clear that his narrow racial tribalism and myopic political neoliberalism has no place for keeping track of Wall Street greed, US imperial crimes or black elite indifference to poverty. For example, there is no serious attention to the plight of the most vulnerable in our community, the LGBT people who are disproportionately affected by violence, poverty, neglect and disrespect.

The disagreements between Coates and I are substantive and serious. It would be wrong to construe my quest for truth and justice as motivated by pettiness. Must every serious critique be reduced to a vicious takedown or an ugly act of hatred? Can we not acknowledge that there are deep disagreements among us with our very lives and destinies at stake? Is it even possible to downplay career moves and personal insecurities in order to highlight our clashing and conflicting ways of viewing the cold and cruel world we inhabit?

I stand with those like Robin DG Kelley, Gerald Horne, Imani Perry and Barbara Ransby who represent the radical wing of the black freedom struggle. We refuse to disconnect white supremacy from the realities of class, empire, and other forms of domination be it ecological, sexual, or others.

The same cannot be said for Ta-Nehisi Coates.

  • Cornel West is Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University. He is the author of Race Matters

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Kazuo Ishiguro wins the Nobel prize in literature 2017

The British author behind books including Man Booker winner The Remains of the Day takes the award for his novels of great emotional force

The English author Kazuo Ishiguro has been named winner of the 2017 Nobel prize in literature, praised by the Swedish Academy for his novels of great emotional force, which it said had uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.

With names including Margaret Atwood, Ngugi Wa Thiongo and Haruki Murakami leading the odds at the bookmakers, Ishiguro was a surprise choice. But his blue-chip literary credentials return the award to more familiar territory after last years controversial selection of the singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. The author of novels including The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, Ishiguros writing, said the Academy, is marked by a carefully restrained mode of expression, independent of whatever events are taking place.

Speaking on Thursday afternoon, the writer said it was amazing and totally unexpected news.

It comes at a time when the world is uncertain about its values, its leadership and its safety, Ishiguro said. I just hope that my receiving this huge honour will, even in a small way, encourage the forces for goodwill and peace at this time.

Ishiguros fellow Booker winner Salman Rushdie who is also regularly named as a potential Nobel laureate was one of the first to congratulate him. Many congratulations to my old friend Ish, whose work Ive loved and admired ever since I first read A Pale View of Hills, Rushdie said. And he plays the guitar and writes songs too! Roll over Bob Dylan.

According to the former poet laureate Andrew Motion, Ishiguros imaginative world has the great virtue and value of being simultaneously highly individual and deeply familiar a world of puzzlement, isolation, watchfulness, threat and wonder.

How does he do it? asked Motion. Among other means, by resting his stories on founding principles which combine a very fastidious kind of reserve with equally vivid indications of emotional intensity. Its a remarkable and fascinating combination, and wonderful to see it recognised by the Nobel prize-givers.

Ishiguro holds a press conference outside his London home after the win. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Permanent secretary of the academy Sara Danius spoke to Ishiguro about his win around an hour after the announcement: He was very charming, nice and well-versed, of course. He said he felt very grateful and honoured, and that this is the greatest award you can receive.

She described Ishiguros writing as a mix of the works of Jane Austen and Franz Kafka, but you have to add a little bit of Marcel Proust into the mix, and then you stir, but not too much, and then you have his writings.

Hes a writer of great integrity. He doesnt look to the side, hes developed an aesthetic universe all his own, she said. Danius named her favourite of Ishiguros novels as The Buried Giant, but called The Remains of the Day a true masterpiece [which] starts as a PG Wodehouse novel and ends as something Kafkaesque.

He is someone who is very interested in understanding the past, but he is not a Proustian writer, he is not out to redeem the past, he is exploring what you have to forget in order to survive in the first place as an individual or as a society, she said, adding in the wake of last years uproar that she hoped the choice would make the world happy.

Thats not for me to judge. Weve just chosen what we think is an absolutely brilliant novelist, she said.

Ishiguros publisher at Faber & Faber, Stephen Page, said the win was absolutely extraordinary news.

Hes just an absolutely singular writer said Page, who received news of Ishiguros win while waiting for a flight at Dublin airport. He has an emotional force as well as an intellectual curiosity, that always finds enormous numbers of readers. His work is challenging at times, and stretching, but because of that emotional force, it so often resonates with readers. Hes a literary writer who is very widely read around the world.

Born in Japan, Ishiguros family moved to the UK when he was five. He studied creative writing at the University of East Anglia, going on to publish his first novel, A Pale View of the Hills, in 1982. He has been a full time writer ever since. According to the Academy, the themes of memory, time and self-delusion weave through his work, particularly in The Remains of the Day, which won Ishiguro the Booker prize in 1989 and was adapted into a film starring Anthony Hopkins as the duty-obsessed butler Stevens.

His more recent novels have taken a turn for the fantastical: Never Let Me Go is set in a dystopic version of England, while The Buried Giant, published two years ago, sees an elderly couple on a road trip through a strange and otherworldly English landscape. This novel explores, in a moving manner, how memory relates to oblivion, history to the present, and fantasy to reality, said the Swedish Academy. Apart from his eight books, which include the short story collection Nocturnes, Ishiguro has written scripts for film and television, and revealed on Thursday that he was also working on a graphic novel.

Im always working on a novel, but Im hoping to collaborate on comics – not superheroes, he said. But Im in discussions with people to work on a graphic novel, which excites me because its new for me and it reunited me with my childhood, reading manga.

Awarded since 1901, the 9m Swedish krona (832,000) Nobel prize is for the writing of an author who, in the words of Alfred Nobels bequest, shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction. Ishiguro becomes the 114th winner, following in the footsteps of writers including Seamus Heaney, Toni Morrison, Mo Yan and Pablo Neruda.

The award is judged by the secretive members of the Swedish Academy, who last year plumped for the American musician Dylan for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition. He proved an elusive winner and was described as impolite and arrogant by academy member Per Wastberg after initially failing to acknowledge the honour.

Some members of the literary community were also less than impressed: This feels like the lamest Nobel win since they gave it to Obama for not being Bush, said Hari Kunzru at the time. The choice of a writer who has won awards including the Man Booker prize should pour oil on at least some of the troubled waters ruffled by Dylans win, though Will Self reacted to Ishiguros win in characteristically lugubrious fashion.

Hes a good writer, Self said, and from what Ive witnessed a lovely man, but the singularity of his vision is ill-served by such crushing laurels, while I doubt the award will do little to reestablish the former centrality of the novel to our culture.

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