Will 2019 be better for literati? | Daily News

Will 2019 be better for literati?

Inauspicious is the euphemistic word to describe 2018 owing to its literary stramash. The reasons are aplenty. No Nobel Prize was awarded to the Literature category.

The Booker Prize came in for huge flak owing to its badly edited shortlisted works. JK Rowling who is kind of overrated for her work had to climb down a few steps as her fans were disappointed with Fantastic Beasts. She could secure Harry Potter as one of the most popular franchises in the world. But she could not grow a good network of fans in 2018. The year is also remembered for the death of Nobel Prize winner Sir VS Naipaul who died peacefully after listening to a poem by Lord Tennyson.

Nobel Prize can be likened to the Olympic gold medals awarded to the most skilful athletic creative icons. Will this year’s winners really deserve the Nobel Prize? For those keeping high hopes about 2019, Lars Heikensten throws the first missile.

If you’ve been following the on-goings of the Swedish Academy and the updates of sexual harassment allegations and mishandled leaks, The Guardian has something to dishearten you. The Nobel Prize for literature won’t return in 2019 unless some confidence is placed back into the Academy. Heikensten, currently the director of the Nobel Foundation, which administrates the funds for the Nobel Prizes, has declared that there might not be a Nobel Prize in literature awarded in 2019, either.

The Nobel committee requires 12 active members to validate the appointment of new inductees. Even the Swedish monarch, it is reported, has got involved making it a strange case. The departure of eight-lifetime members after the decision to keep Academy member Katarina Frostenson, whose husband Jean-Claude Arnault is the root of all this havoc, says it all.

All the same, we can have some faith on the Swedish Academy that may sort itself out and reestablish integrity to the incumbent disorder. That seems far from likely until the end of 2020. Yet, hope springs eternal, they say.

The Man Booker Prize, on a different plane, earned wrath for its decision to welcome the US on board. That was followed by some harsh criticism on the editing worth of the shortlisted works.

So goes The Guardian:

“Where did the decision to include US writers originate? Publishers like to blame the Man Group, and what they regard as its greedy lust for global publicity. But according to one Booker insider, this is not the case. For two years, the trustees looked at the possibility of setting up a new, separate prize in the US; the consultants McKinsey were commissioned to explore this. When it became clear that it wouldn’t be feasible, Peter Mayer, the American former publisher of Penguin Books, and Ed Victor, the London-based American literary agent, suggested the change (both men have since died, as has Ion Trewin, then the literary director of the prize). Ask the Man Group, an investment management company, what it gets out of sponsoring the prize, and the talk is mostly of corporate social responsibility (the Booker prize foundation works in schools and libraries and supports a number of literacy programmes) and the “unique social networking opportunities” it provides for clients (among other things, it takes 200 seats at the award ceremony).”

2018, so to say, bulged with controversial episodes. Each episode narrated an anecdote. You may dare say it was a happening year for literature, literati and literary fans.

Yet, 2019 promises to be an exciting year in literature.

The first month of 2019 has already taken an interesting turn with Louis Cha Leung-yung. Well known for his wuxia novels, written under the pen name Jin Yong, this Chinese author is ranked among the world’s most popular novelists of the past 30 years. Jin’s death aged 94 in Hong Kong in October came only a few months after Anna Holmwood’s admirable and long overdue English translation of Legends of the Condor Heroes: A Hero is Born.

In another long-awaited return, Mark Haddon of ‘Curious Incident’ fame publishes his first novel after seven years. Inspired by the ancient story of Pericles, The Porpoise revolves around a baby girl who is the sole survivor of a plane crash. Years later she meets a strange man who seems to know her story better than she does.

In April, Ian McEwan is billed to bring out ‘Machines Like Me’, his take on artificial intelligence. Usually erotically charged, McEwan’s narrator buys a synthetic human to fondle, converse with and – believe it or not - love. The interested readers can look forward to a similar experience in Jeanette Winterson’s novel Frankenstein, wherein gender, sexuality and technology go hand in hand. The work is a throwback to Mary Shelley’s seminal gothic horror.


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