Hot favourite wins Nobel literary prize

THE NOBEL Prize for Literature was awarded in Stockholm yesterday to the hotly tipped favourite, the Portuguese writer Jose Saramago.

Saramago, 76, a novelist who burst on to the literary scene only 16 years ago, had been top of insiders' shortlists for several years - a fact that appeared to disqualify him in the eyes of the Academy's controversy- seeking judges. Last year, they raised eyebrows by handing the cheque to the Italian "people's playwright", Dario Fo.

Saramago had long been tipped by The Independent as a Nobel winner of the Literature prize. In July 1993 he was awarded the The Independent's Foreign Fiction award for his novel The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis, after being shortlisted for the prize in September 1992.

There was a look of profound disappointment on the faces of the literati gathered yesterday in the sumptuous Great Hall of the Swedish Academy. Perhaps the judges were, after all, sensitive to the controversy generated by their actions. Whatever their motive, Saramago was the safest choice.

The only criticism that could be levelled against his selection was that the Portuguese author is the second left-leaning southern European in a row, and the fourth European in succession to be award the prize - but then the Academy always denied it was prone to tokenism.

That ever-present mythical Asian poetess, always supposed to be next in line for the prize, must wait another year.

"Our criterion is exclusively a literary one," Sture Allen, the Academy's permanent secretary, declared on the eve on the announcement. By this yardstick, there can be few quibbles with the choice of Mr Saramago who, according to the official commendation, employs a vast array of "parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony.

"Saramago's idiosyncratic development of his own resonant style of fiction gives him a high standing," the Academy's statement said.

"For all his independence, Saramago invokes tradition in a way that ... can be described as radical. His oeuvre resembles a series of projects, with each one more or less disavowing the others, but all involving a new attempt to come to grips with an illusory reality."

On Blindness, one of his more recent works, the commendation said: "Saramago's exuberant imagination, capriciousness and clear-sightedness find full expression in this irrationally engaging work."

The Swedish Academy's 18 members, entrusted by the last will of Alfred Nobel, select each year's winner from nominations received by fellow academicians and Nobel laureates from around the world.

The members rely to a great extent on the advice of a network of experts, and they are expected to read the works of only the five or six who reach the final secret shortlist, selected by a committee of six.

The literature prize recognises writing that works "in an ideal direction". The Nobel Prize over the years has been given to writers with world views stretching from the bleak futility of Samuel Beckett's works to the vivid epics of Iceland's Halldor Laxness.

Previous winners include Winston Churchill and Bertrand Russell, who did not work in fiction or poetry.

News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
The number of GP practices with 10 or more doctors has grown by 75 per cent
science
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Arts and Entertainment
John Hurt will voice Prince Bolkonsky in Radio 4's War and Peace
radioRadio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Recruitment Genius: Development Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game