Obooki Prize Speculation

The usual speculation over this year’s Obooki Prize winner has heated up over the last few days (which is odd on the whole, since there’s almost three months left till it’s awarded). The lack of obvious candidates (Larry Niven and Álvaro Mutis, so far – with Antonio Tabucchi clearly not in the running at all) has led many to suspect the prize might be snatched at the last minute by a dark horse – which will hardly come as a surpise to Obooki Prize watchers since a dark horse has snatched the Obooki Prize every year since its inception.

Obooki notes himself that no Nobel Prize winner has ever gone on to win the Obooki Prize – though he admits to be reading a book by Kenzaburo Oe, whom he has observed is still alive and which he is apparently enjoying. Could this be Oe’s year? – No, probably not, otherwise we wouldn’t have mentioned him. – Perhaps the prize won’t be awarded at all: there’s always that provision.

Of all the books being read at the moment, only two are by living writers. (Hmm, I wonder what the other one is? Not someone you’ll find even mentioned in connection with the Nobel (or, at least, I never have)).

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8 thoughts on “Obooki Prize Speculation

  1. I hope this doesn’t come across as reverse influence-peddling, Obooki, but I hated the one Oe book I’ve read to date. Hated, hated, hated it. A dark horse as a winner, eh? Black Beauty perhaps? Ok, maybe I’ll just wait the three months to see.

  2. I’m reading A Personal Matter, which is nice and short. So far it’s been a bit Calvino-esque. In fact: Imagine a cross between Italo Calvino and David Lynch.

    I have actually mentioned the book I expect to win somewhere on this blog.

    Ah, I see they gave the Nobel Prize to Transtromer. Another one who won’t be winning the Obooki Prize anytime soon, largely because he doesn’t seem to be eligible, being a poet.

  3. Better keep an eye on the obits, wouldn’t want your dark horse to end up dead (cf. Nobel in Medicine). Worries me that the Nobel Committee can’t keep track of one of their nominees.

    Mutis is nearing nonagenarian status.

  4. My rules obviate the problem of death, since they only have to be living at the beginning of the year – which was intended, if a writer died, for me to quickly get a book in if necessary so they at least had a chance at winning.

  5. Tantalising.

    Upon re-reading the Obooki Prize rules, I am struck again by their simple elegance. I particularly like the definition of “reading = finished”.

    2 previous winners sit on my shelf, waiting to be read, not that I’m trying to create any pressure around the decision process.

  6. There is one rule I missed out though, which is that a writer can only win the prize once (but can be runner-up on limitless occasions!).

    The best thing about the Obooki Prize is that it has a jury of one. This is an infinitely better solution than any other prize I can think of (esp. the Not The Booker Prize). Though I’ve always liked the idea of the Prix Valery Larbaud, where, though there’s a jury, their remit is to consider which book Valery Larbaud would have given the award to.

    Let me guess, the one not on your shelves is Ermanno Cavazzoni? – It’s a pity: I’d feel the Obooki Prize had achieved something if I could get one other person to appreciate Cavazzoni. – I must dig it out, because even now about two years later, I keep thinking about sections of it and imagining I should re-read them.

  7. Yes, you guessed correctly. It’s not through lack of interest that I haven’t tracked down Cavazzoni – he just seems to be quite hard to find. There’s only 1 UK copy of The Voice of the Moon listed on abebooks (in its favour it is priced at 65p). Maybe I’ll rouse myself to make the appropriate clicks.

  8. Since winning the Obooki Prize, Cavazzoni’s had another of his books published in English – The Nocturnal Library – thus (along with the re-issue of the Atxaga book) showing the extraordinay influence the prize exerts.

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