2011 Nobel Prize for Literature awarded

Medal goes to Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer.

The 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, making him the 108th recipient of the written word's highest accolade.

The Swedish Academy, which decides the winner, said it was recognizing Tranströmer as "through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality."

Considered the country's foremost poet, Tranströmer, 80, becomes the eighth Swede to be granted the award (along with 10 million kronor; around £940,000), and the eighth European literature laureate in the last decade.

A good ten minutes before the announcement was made (at noon GMT; 1pm Sweden) it seemed someone in an office, somewhere (assumedly not the Academy palace in Stockholm, above), had blundered, posting the winner prematurely on the Nobel Prize website. It was quickly found to be a hoax site naming the wrong winner (though a good enough copy)

Tranströmer was hardly considered the frontrunner in the UK. Although the Academy deemed it "crazy speculation", the bookies' odds of a win for folk singer-songwriter Bob Dylan were slashed in recent days -- from 100/1 down to 5/1 -- making him the safest bet for those so inclined. A Pulitzer prize he did win in 2008, with judges citing "his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power." Odds were also very good for Norwegian Wood and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle's Japanese author, Haruki Murakami.

Recent winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature include Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa in 2010, German poet Herta Müller in 2009, French novelist J. M. G. Le Clézio in 2008 and British author of socialist, feminist and sci fi works, Doris Lessing, in 2007.

You can read a couple of Tranströmer's poems in translation on The Owl's website, here. It is National Poetry Day, after all.

Alice Gribbin is a Teaching-Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She was formerly the editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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SRSLY #14: Interns, Housemaids and Witches

On the pop culture podcast this week, we discuss the Robert De Niro-Anne Hathaway film The Intern, the very last series of Downton Abbey, and Sylvia Townsend Warner’s novel Lolly Willowes.

This is SRSLY, the pop culture podcast from the New Statesman. Here, you can find links to all the things we talk about in the show as well as a bit more detail about who we are and where else you can find us online.

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SRSLY is hosted by Caroline Crampton and Anna Leszkiewicz, the NS’s web editor and editorial assistant. We’re on Twitter as @c_crampton and @annaleszkie, where between us we post a heady mixture of Serious Journalism, excellent gifs and regularly ask questions J K Rowling needs to answer.

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The Links

On The Intern

Ryan Gilbey’s discussion of Robert De Niro’s interview tantrums.

Anne Helen Petersen for Buzzfeed on “Anne Hathaway Syndrome”.


On Downton Abbey

This is the sort of stuff you get on the last series of Downton Abbey.


Elizabeth Minkel on the decline of Downton Abbey.



On Lolly Willowes

More details about the novel here.

Sarah Waters on Sylvia Townsend Warner.


Next week:

Caroline is reading Selfish by Kim Kardashian.


Your questions:

We loved reading out your emails this week. If you have thoughts you want to share on anything we've discussed, or questions you want to ask us, please email us on srslypod[at], or @ us on Twitter @srslypod, or get in touch via tumblr here. We also have Facebook now.



The music featured this week, in order of appearance, is:

i - Kendrick Lamar

With or Without You - Scala & Kolacny Brothers 

Our theme music is “Guatemala - Panama March” (by Heftone Banjo Orchestra), licensed under Creative Commons. 

See you next week!

PS If you missed #13, check it out here.

Caroline Crampton is web editor of the New Statesman.

Anna Leszkiewicz is the New Statesman's editorial assistant.