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Nobel Bets

The 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature will be announced at 4:00 in the morning pacific time on Thursday, October 7th.  (Don’t pretend like you won’t be awake to watch the webcast!)  The British betting house, Ladbrokes, tends to be the spot where everyone looks to find the current betting odds on who the next laureate will be.  Betting on such a thing as a literary prize is nearly as futile as betting on… well, something ridiculously impossible to predict.  In the last few years, especially, the Nobel has surprised everyone with their left field picks: Herta Muller, 2010; J.M.G le Clezio, 2009; Elifred Jelinek, 2004.  Still, it’s kinda fun to guess.  This year, the early favorite was a Swedish poet named Tomas Transtromer – since the word on the street is that 2010 is “the year of the poet.”  Earlier this week, focus shifted to Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’o – a shift that freaked out the Ladbrokes blokes since the early odds had Thiong’o at 75/1, creating a potentially disastrous scenario for the oddsmakers.  (If you got your bet in early, with the 75/1 odds, the payout could be huge.)  As of this morning, however, the current favorite is Mr. Cormac McCarthy.  Huh?

The odds for the top favorites, according to Ladbrokes betting house in England (as of Wednesday morning):

Cormac McCarthy: 5/2
Ngugi wa Thiong’o: 7/2

Haruki Murakami: 6/1
Peter Nadas: 9/1
Ko Un: 12/1
Gerald Murnane: 12/1
Tomas Transtromer: 13/1
Adonis: 13/1
Les Murray: 15/1
Juan Gelman: 15/1
Alice Munro: 16/1
Joyce Carol Oates: 18/1
Thomas Pynchon: 22/1
E.L Doctorow: 22/1
Adam Zagajewski: 25/1
Claudio Magris: 25/1
Amos Oz: 25/1
Mario Vargas Llosa: 25/1
Ulrich Holbein: 25/1
John Ashbery: 25/1
Philip Roth: 33/1

Every year, Philip Roth’s name is bandied about because it’s been – gasp – 16 years since an American was awarded the prize (Toni Morrison, 1994).  The Ladbrokes list is created generally by buzz in the book world alone, which would explain the great odds on Cormac and Thiong’o as well as the appearance on the list of the likes of Thomas Pynchon and E.L. Doctorow.  (Not to mention the 100/1 odds on Bob Dylan.)  The whole thing is pretty absurd.  I love Haruki Murakami, but c’mon, 6/1?

That said, which horse are you backin’?  My money’s on Tomas the Transformer.  Year of the Poet, baby.

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3 comments on “Nobel Bets

  1. Greg Zimmerman
    October 6, 2010

    Wow – wonder what caused Cormac to shoot up to be the favorite? Also, I wonder what the odds are that anyone can even pronounce Ngugi wa Thiong'o, much less have read him (or her?)?

  2. Seth Marko
    October 6, 2010

    I have no idea. It's totally bizarre – as is the Murakami buzz. I don't think there's any basis in reality to any of it & the winner will of course be someone no one has ever heard of. (As in, Tomas the Transtromer.)

  3. OBDII scanner
    September 17, 2011

    Most of the time you can not predict the Nobel prize winner.

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This entry was posted on October 6, 2010 by in Cormac, Nobel Prize.
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