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Who will win the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature?


There’s no way in hell that none of these Americans will win

  • Jamaica Kincaid (Antigua-American novelist and plant enthusiast; odds 13-1)
  • Don DeLillo (Reported to get good publicity ahead of Noah Baumbach’s adaptation of White Noise; odds 17-1)
  • Cormac McCarthy (Ridley Scott collaborator; odds 34-1)
  • Marilynne Robinson (The fading paint on a Lutheran church, somewhere between Des Moines and Iowa City; odds 34-1)
  • William T. Vollmann (Where were they even going to reach him to tell him the news? An abandoned signal tower somewhere in the Mazatzal mountains? An old forum dedicated to daguerreotype pornography?; Exhibit 51-1)
  • Stephen King (founding member of the Rock Bottom Remainders; odds 51-1)
  • Thomas Pynchon (Would win if there was a god, but god is dead, no luck)
  • Joan Didion (First but certainly not the last Nobel Prize nominee with her face on a popular tote bag; no chance)
  • Joyce Carol Oates (Plastic Skeleton Defender; No Chance)
  • Francis Fukuyama (plastic skeleton opponent, no odds)
  • Jonathan Franzen (Please rate Mr. Difficult five stars on Apple podcasts; no chance)
  • Dave Eggers (A shoo-in for the Nobel Prize for #Resistance Literature; no chance)

After years of ignoring great post-war American novelists – DeLillo, Pynchon and, most importantly, Philip Roth – the Nobel Prize Committee has honored two Americans over the past five years: a singer-songwriter and a poet. Who says Swedes don’t have a sense of humor? (By this logic, the next American winner will actually be a stand-up comedian. Imagine it: Nobel laureate Denis Leary.) Either way, there’s no way an American will win this year. : we are not doing three out of six. This does not happen.

But if? There is always hope. Maybe Don DeLillo’s new iPhone fiction resonates in Northern Europe. In any case, his depressing novels on rotten America deserve the Prize, even if Thomas Pynchon’s funny ones on the same subject deserve it more. The Nobel Prize committee, like the rest of us, awaits Cormac McCarthy’s long-delayed and probably non-existent next book, The passenger, but he’s unlikely to win, given the dark forest buzzing on the horizon, the campfire flames sawing in the wind, the pale streaks of light seeping across the sky and also because the Nobel Prize Committee really hated James Franco’s adaptation of God’s Son.

I have, in the past, written several nasty things on Joyce Carol Oates’ Twitter feed, suggesting that her senseless and sometimes offensive tweets were enough to disqualify her from the Nobel Prize. Well, at one point during the pandemic I got completely under Joyce and now I find her to be a weird and delightful (although sometimes offensive) presence. I’m sorry, Joyce. You’re funny. But you are not going to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.


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