By Jacob Silkstone
This week: good sex, totalitarian regimes, a list of prizes Gabriel García Marquez hasn’t won, and a flimsy excuse to include the Icelandic flag for the first time.
The Iceland Review is hoping for a second Icelandic win in three years in the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize. Novelist Hallgrímur Helgason and short story writer Guðmundur Andri Thorsson are among the fourteen writers on the shortlist for the 2013 prize. Regional heavyweights Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden all have two representatives, while the Faroe Islands, Greenland, the Åland Islands and the Sami Language Area have one representative each. Previous winners include Swedish Nobel Laureates Tomas Tranströmer and Eyvind Johnson.
Mohammad al-Ajami has been sentenced to life imprisonment for ‘inciting to overthrow the ruling system’ and ‘insulting the Emir’, although nobody seems to know precisely what the insult was. The charges relate to a poem which al-Ajami, who describes the Emir as ‘a good man’, recited to ‘a small audience’ in his flat. Amnesty speculates that the offending line was ‘we are all Tunisia in the face of the repressive elite’; al-Ajami has now spent five months in solitary confinement.
This year, the Cervantes Prize (one of the few awards García Marquez has yet to win*) has gone to octogenarian poet Jose Manuel Caballero Bonald. Caballero Bonald has worked in Colombia, Cuba and the US, and his career as a writer spans seven decades. The Cervantes Prize is the latest, and most prestigious, in an awe-inspiring series of awards, including the honorary title of ‘Favourite Son of Andalucía’, the Premio Nacional and the Reina Sofia Award for Latin American Poetry.
*Other awards García Marquez has yet to win include the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Jerusalem Prize, Mr. Universe, The Onion’s Sexiest Man Alive etc.
Last week was all about bad sex, so how about a good sex prize this time? American poet CAConrad (sic) has chosen Rob Halpern’s Music for Porn as 2012’s Sexiest Poem. Looking for that magic line to use on a first date? Follow Halpern’s award-winning example and say ‘yr role in something boundless makes me impotent’, or ‘I want to be fucked by him because the repressive sublimation of his body has become unbearable’. Or just stick to flowers/jewellery/fetish gear.