Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Stackhouse on Rattapallax + Nobel Judge Resigns

Friend, artist and collaborator Christopher Stackhouse appears on Rattapallax literary journal's audio feed site, reading his poem "Fabrication." Check it out!
Rattapallax's most recent issue (12) includes works by Stackhouse, as well as Saul Williams, Rick Moody, Paul Beatty, Ernesto Cardenal, Kenneth Goldsmith, Patricia Spear Jones, Mohammed Khair-Eddine, Marilyn Hacker, Samuel Menashe, Dael Orlandersmith, Margert Ryan, Jerome Rothenberg, Virgil Suarez, Raul Zurita, Li-Young Lee, Cid Campos, Augusto de Campos, Haroldo de Campos, Carl Hancock Rux, and a special section on South African Poetry After Apartheid. (Thanks for the heads up, Mendi!)


According to a report in the BBC News, Knut Ahnlund, an 82-year-old member of the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize in Literature, resigned today in protest over last year's awarding of the literary world's most important international prize to Elfriede Jelinek. According to Ahnlund, Jelinek's works, which include novels, plays and essays, are "a mass of text shovelled together without artistic structure." In fact, he stated that "last year's Nobel Prize has not only done irreparable damage to all progressive forces, it has also confused the general view of literature as an art." Talk about a delayed response; did he just learn about last year's award today?

I also think he protesteth too much. Jelinek's works, which he also called "pornographic" (which is partially right) are also held in high esteem by other writers and readers. Her most famous book, the violent and disturbing The Piano Teacher, became an internationally celebrated movie under Michael Haneke's direction in 2001. Ahnlund suggested that the Academy had not read most of Jelinek's works, so were they basing the award on the movie and Isabelle Huppert's extraordinary performance? In which case, will the award to this Thursday to Canadian author and poet Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient), Britons John LeCarré (The Constant Gardner), A.S. Byatt (Possession) or Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day), or Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami (Tony Takitani)? Those Jelinek books aren't easy reading, but then Ondaatje is even tougher....


  1. How strange for the judge to resign *now* just before the announcement of this years Laureate. If the problem was Jelinek, why didn't he go last year? Or after William "Lord of the Flies" Golding's win, which a lot of people disagreed with ("He only wrote the one worthwhile book," was the usual complaint). This makes me wonder if this is REALLY about who they're going to announce this week.

  2. Reggie, very good point. I wonder if he just couldn't stomach the fact that Joyce Carol Oates's name popped up, yet again!



  3. I guess we both showed our preferences (for fiction and poetry) with completely missing this year's winner. "!?Pinter!?" I said to myself this morning with a mix of confusion and surprise(as often happens on Nobel Lit day). He wasn't on my radar (When I think of the British Theater I think of Tom Stoppard), and I'm also surprised that they picked 'another Englishman' so close to Naipaul (yeah yeah I know VS isn't *really*...but then again yes he is! LOL). Wonder if this means David Mamet will be among the anointed when he becomes a Grand Old Man?

  4. Reggie, I actually did mention Pinter in my long list of possible winners, mainly because of his large output and his singular style, which strikes me as particularly appropriate given the bizarrerie we're witnessing both in our goverment and society, and across the globe. And oddly enough, last night, I thought of him--but mainly because I read that he'd be ACTING in an anniversary performance of some upcoming play in the Royal Court Theater's experimental plays festival. I tend to think of him before any other contemporary British playwright, and then of Hare, Stoppard, Churchill, etc. I do wish that Wilson Harris had gotten the nod, but maybe that's what the divided board and Ahnlund's drama were all about.