I recently read a really nice short story by Alice Munro. I am currently reading Blindness by José Saramago. What do they have in common? That’s right, they were both awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature: Saramago way back in 1998 and Munro only last year. When someone commented “How often do you get to say you’ve read a Nobel Prize winner?” at the book club the other day, it got me thinking. I honestly didn’t know if I ever had any – the only author I was certain about was William Golding, and only because Lord of the Flies formed a large part of my syllabus last year.
So I found this list of all Nobel Prize Winners in Literature ever and satisfied my curiousity.
I have read the works of twelve Nobel Prize Laureates:
  1. Alice Munro 2013 – Dimension (short story)
  2. V. S. Naipaul 2001 – The Mystic Masseuse
  3. William Golding 1983 – Lord of the Flies, The Hot Gates
  4. Gabriel Garcia Marquez 1982 – Love in the Time of Cholera
  5. Heinrich Böll 1972 – The Train Was on Time, Clown, And Where Were You, Adam?, Irish Journal
  6. Albert Camus 1957 – The Fall
  7. Ernest Hemingway 1954 – The Sun Also Rises
  8. Bertrand Russell 1950 – The Conquest of Happiness and Why I am Not a Christian (and something else) when I was younger.
  9. Thomas Stearns Eliot 1948 – Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, Portrait of a Lady, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, On Poetry and Poets
  10. Hermann Hesse 1946 – Siddhartha
  11. George Bernard Shaw 1925 – Pygmalion
  12. Rudyard Kipling 1907 – The Jungle Book (granted, it was probably abridged), The Phantom Rickshaw (short story)
I can’t say I’ve read enough of Kipling or Hemingway to decide whether I liked them. I don’t see myself reading anything else by Gabriel Garcia Marquez anytime soon. That leaves seven authors. I love William Golding, Heinrich Böll, Bertrand Russel and Eliot. I liked The Fall and do want to read The Stranger, which Camus is rather more renowned for. I was impressed by Siddhartha, but having read it in German, it was difficult to love it – but I do want to read Steppenwolf, I almost stole it from a shopkeeper once. Pygmalion was beautiful. As for Naipaul, I found The Mystic Masseuse funny, but I would have to read more to really know. And I have already ordered a collection of the best stories by Alice Munro!
Of course, there are many authors I love a lot more, contemporaries of these writers even, who totally deserved the honour (me thinks) and this isn’t my judging a book by its Prize. That being said, there is a whole other bunch of books by awardees on my shelves, virtual and real, some read half-way, waiting to be finished. Five! I counted. Should I be worried that I feel all mighty and haughty at having read (soon enough) seventeen Nobel Prize winning writers. Why, how many have you read?