According to the AP, some members of the Swedish Academy that awards the Nobel Prize for Literature have alleged that other members are biased towards European writers and against American ones. Supporters of this allegation point to the fact that, of the last twenty Nobel Laureates for Literature, only one was an American while fourteen were from the European continent. They blame American literature’s overly “insular” quality as a result of a shortage of translated literature in the American mass market as the cause of this discrepancy.

Okay, yeah, fourteen out of twenty is a lot. But I think it is worth remembering that Europe is made up of more than one country; while “America” refers to the United States. Is it really fair to compare a continent to a country? Three of the fourteen European wins went to the United Kingdom – if there’s a bias here, I’d say it was in favor of the United Kingdom!

It’s interesting that they are saying that the problem with Americans is our lack of translated literature. If that’s a problem, we’re in good company – out of that same glorious twenty, a full eight of the Laureates wrote in English. The second most common language used was German – with only three occurrences out of the twenty.

Maybe when more translated works start winning, there will be a higher demand for them in the American market.

Next time the Nobel committee wants to find its way into a blog or two, maybe they should do so without weakly accusing each other of biases.

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