Thanks to the Nobel Prizes We Get to Read Writers from Outside the Anglophone West

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It’s that time of the year again – we will know who wins the Nobel Prize of Literature on 13 October. Hopefully we will discover someone like Patrick Modiano and Svetlana Alexievich, who were virtual unknowns in the Anglophone West-centric literary world of ours. The works of Modiano and Alexievich only started to arrive in India after their Nobel wins; we would have been denied of their profound works which experimented with form and the way of saying, if the Nobel Prize wasn’t conferred upon them. Their works weren’t also published by the mainstream UK and USA publishers, and this says a lot about the motivation and the ability of the Anglophone world to recognize and publish world literature. One feels a certain gratitude for the Nobel Prize for being the only prize in our world that continues to identify and celebrate literature.

India hasn’t won the Nobel Prize for Literature since Tagore–it has been over 100 years since that momentous event for Asia. The reasons for that could be many: regional language literature wasn’t translated or didn’t find its way to Europe. In Calcutta, there are still passionate discussions about why certain Indian authors – who didn’t write in English – should have won the Nobel Prize, but they didn’t, because they were not promoted by the Indian literary ecosystem. The names of Jibananda Das, Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay U.R. Ananthamurthy and Ashapurna Devi are always mentioned. Read more

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