The Clang of the Nobel Bell

Tomorrow at 1 p.m. the tiny at bell at the former Stockholm Stock Exchange Building will toll with it’s high clang, and the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, professor Sara Danius, will open the door to announce 2017’s Nobel Prize laureate in literature.

Since Svetlana Alexievich was the most expected winner for decades in 2015, last year’s prize given to Bob Dylan has created an uncertainty about which road the Academy will choose. Jokes have been made that the only thing sure is that Tom Petty will not get the prize.

Haruki Murakami, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Margaret Atwood and Javier Marias are the authors in top of the Swedish betting services’ listings. But what about the poets?

Since 1996 only two poets have won the price, Wislawa Szymborska in 1996 and Tomas Tranströmer in 2011.

Well, one might say, also Bob Dylan is a poet that has ”created new poetical expressions in the great American song book”, but many others will say that John Ashbery was the true American poet that deserved the prize, but now it is too late.

Besides Tranströmer and Szymborska the last poets to receive the prize have been Seamus Heany, Derek Walcott and Octavio Paz. Some might therefore say that it is time to take a step away from modernist poetry and move to a later era, why not Anne Carson, a favourite among many?

But the poets mostly talked about and listed are usually Doris Kareva, Adam Zagajewski, Ko Un and Adonis, the latter would be a controversial choice because of his statements about the war in Syria, not least among many Arabic readers and colleagues – but he also has friends and fans in the Academy.

No one knows before the small bell tolls, except that the Academy almost always is very unpredictable and never seems to care about politics, geography or trying to equalize the inequality among the number of men and women who have received the prize.

It will be a surprise.