This week: As one former Nobel Laureate may or may not be heading into retirement, the latest recipient of the Prize discusses taking his belt and shoes off. Meanwhile, the year’s worst sex scene is revealed…
One more piece about sex and then (like Hephzibah Anderson, but without the self-pity) we’ll go a year without: Paris-based Canadian author Nancy Huston won this year’s Bad Sex in Fiction award for her novel Infrared. As scrotum-witheringly awful as Huston’s sex scenes are (‘never will I tire of that silvery fluidity, my sex swimming in joy like a fish in water’), Tom ‘his big generative jockey was inside her pelvic saddle’ Wolfe would surely have been a worthier winner.
Mo Yan, either ‘a poet who tears down stereotypical propaganda posters’ or (for Salman Rushdie) ‘a patsy of the régime’, compared state censorship to an airport security check in his Nobel acceptance speech: ‘When I was taking my flight… they also wanted to check me — even taking off my belt and shoes. But I think these checks are necessary.’ He added that ‘When someone forces me to do something I don’t do it’… unless that someone works for airport security.
Great writers retiring stealthily, part 2: Imre Kertész — Auschwitz survivor, Nobel Laureate, author of at least one of the greatest books of the twentieth-century — has followed Philip Roth into retirement. Or has he? Early in November, he was quoted as telling Der Spiegel ‘I don’t want to write any more. I consider my oeuvre… closed.’ However, recent reports suggest that rumours of Kertész’s retirement have been greatly exaggerated: in Kertész’s own words, Der Spiegel’s announcement was ‘a bit too hasty.’
The 16-novel longlist for the International Prize for Arabic fiction was announced last week, with Saud Alsanousi becoming the first Kuwaiti writer to make the list. Alsanousi’s novel, The Bamboo Stick, is up against some strong competition: 2012 winner Rabee Jaber returns with The Birds of the Holiday Inn (sadly not The Birds of Jamaica Inn, the great unwritten du Maurier mash-up) and Jaber’s Lebanese compatriot Elias Khoury has been nominated for Sinalkul. The shortlist will be published in January.