The huge number of nominees whose names have been sent in for the most prestigious award in the areas of Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature, Peace, Economic Sciences continue to make the news headlines. The prize for literature which I’ll dwell upon, has been awarded 104 times to 108 winners (Nobel laureates) between 1901 and last year (2011). It’s not surprising why there’s a massive submission, with fame and fortune ($1.5Million) for each prize in the winner’s kitty.
Sully Prudhomme was the first to win the prize in literature in 1901, and some likely to ring a bell in the minds of literature students/enthusiasts, include George Bernard Shaw (1925), Thomas Stearns Elliot (1948), William Faulkner (1949) Sir Winston Leonard Churchill (1953), Ernest Hemingway (1954), Wole Soyinka (1986), Doris lessing (2007), Tomas Transtromer (2011) amongst others.
This encomium was showered on Prof Soyinka on the day he received the award by the body ; “who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence”. Many have opined that his fellow icon, Chinua Achebe, should have clinched the title “Nobel Laureate” by now, with his repertoire of works which has made him a literary giant. Whatever the various reasons are, it hasn’t dimmed his literary light one bit.
It’s been twenty- five years since a Nigerian won the Nobel prize for literature, and with the nominees sent in, we can only keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.