For some reason, I love to discuss the fact that people – British people, really, if we’re honest – like to bet money on literary prizes. It’s Book Award Betting Season again, everybody!
Thursday morning, kids all over the planet will wake up to a world with a new reigning Nobel Prize winner in Literature. They’ll rush downstairs, turn on their local NPR station, & hope to hear their favorite name announced. Little Jimmy’s been praying all season for Syrian poet, Adonis, but he wouldn’t be broken up if Tomas Transtromer took home the gold. Gary thinks it’s gonna be Philip Roth, but he’s wrong – at least according to Suzie, who has inside knowledge that Nuruddin Farah is a sure thing.
Ah, what do they know – here are the odds as of Monday, according to Ladbroke’s famed betting house, London:
Adonis – 4/1
Tomas Transtromer – 6/1
Haruki Murakami – 8/1
Peter Nadas – 10/1
Assia Djebar – 12/1
Ko Un – 14/1
Les Murray – 16/1
Thomas Pynchon – 18/1
Philip Roth – 20/1
Nuruddin Farah – 20/1
Just like every year, most of the names on the list are a mystery to me, even after Googling & Wikipedia-ing. This is just the top 10, filled with many familiars, although Tomas & Assia are still enigmas – there are 77 total names listed with odds on Ladbroke’s. (Les Murray is an Australian poet, by the way.) Last year, 25/1 darkhorse Mario Vargas Llosa took the Prize even though Cormac McCarthy was the heavy 5/2 favorite heading into the final week. This year, my money’s on Romanian poet Mircea Cărtărescu – I mean, why not? Who the hell knows anyway?
Not to be outdone, the Booker Prize is in the one-month Shortlist waiting period – the winner is announced October 13th. Here’re the current odds on that action:
Julian Barnes – The Sense of an Ending: 13/8
Carol Birch – Jamrach’s Menagerie: 7/2
A.D. Miller – Snowdrops: 7/2
Stephen Kelman – Pigeon English: 9/2
Esi Edugyan – Half Blood Blues: 13/2
Patrick deWitt – The Sisters Brothers: 8/1
I have no idea how to interpret odds like “13/8” but it would seem that Julian is a pretty heavy favorite. I’m still pulling for Carol Birch.
Any thoughts? Maybe a little side bet?