Isn’t it time we called bullshit, once and for all, on the Nobel Prize? I’m not talking about the Peace Prize — though that’s a parcel of yuks all of its own. First Barack Obama — who hasn’t made peace anywhere at all, and whose prosecution of the war on terror has seen him described as “George W Bush on steroids” — and now the European Union. Already, I’m imagining tense negotiations in Brussels over who, exactly, gets to put the diploma into his downstairs loo.

But no: it’s a given that the Peace Prize is kind of a joke. What about the Nobel Prize for Literature? Has there ever been an instance of so manifest an absurdity accorded such reverence — such a tottering edifice of pomp erected on such shallow foundations?

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Literary prizes, wrote Kingsley Amis, are “all right if you win them.” China’s political establishment takes a far less relaxed view of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Since the country reintegrated into the global community after the death of Mao, its government has long craved a literary Nobel for a Chinese citizen living, working and thriving in China as proof that the People’s Republic has arrived as a modern world power. China’s longstanding Nobel envy has turned the prize into a symbol of collective achievement, rather than of individual creativity.