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New Left Review 80, March-April 2013


benedict anderson

THE UNREWARDED

Notes on the Nobel Prize for Literature

The decision to bestow the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature on the Chinese novelist Mo Yan raises once again the ticklish question of the patterns of distribution for these laurels at the global level. In almost every country, of course, the awarding of literary prizes has typically been contaminated by national politics, the formation of literary cliques, religious convictions, racial prejudices, double standards and the ideologies of the period. Is this the main reason why, over the 110 years of announcements of winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, there has never been an awardee from any country in Southeast Asia—while every other region has had its turn?

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