Friday, 28 October 2016

Did Ngugi wa Thiong’o Deserve The Literature Nobel Prize More Than Bob Dylan?

 Ngugi wa Thiong’o, one of the most celebrated African writers, failed to win the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016, losing to American artist and writer, Bob Dylan, mid-this month in a decision that drew condemnation from leading writers across the world.

The Nobel Prize for Literature is usually awarded by the Swedish Academy to authors for their outstanding contributions in literature.

This is the second time that Kenya’s most celebrated novelist failed to win the prize after losing to Mario Vargas Llosa of Peru in 2010, after book makers tipped him as the front-runner.

“Their decision is contemptuous of writers. I like Dylan but where is the literary work? I think the Swedish Academy have made themselves look ridiculous,” Pierre Assouline, a leading French write and journalist told AFP.

Analysts had tipped Thiong’o who is currently a distinguished Professor of the Departments of Comparative Literature and English as the University of California, in the U.S. and Adonis, a controversial Syrian poet, as the leading candidates for this year’s award.

Dylan’s win upset the expectations that Thiong’o’s great literature works touching on nationalism, societal classes, race and gender, cutting through diverse cultures on the continent would give him the victory, making him the fifth African writer to win the prestigious award, Quartz Africa reported.

“Shocked Nobel Prize for Literature didn’t go to Africa’s Ngugi wa Thiong’o. Methinks @NobelPrize has a curious fascination with white men,” Professor Makau Mutua, a Kenyan-American law professor wrote on his Twitter account.

The Kenyan writer is renowned for books such as The Devil on the Cross, Weep Not Child, The River Between, Wizard of the Crow and Petals of Blood is regarded as one of the best in Africa, alongside greats such as Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka.

Just like Soyinka and Achebe, Thiong’o was born during the colonial times and much of his work was shaped by the political disillusionment faced by Africans during the colonial era.
Past African winners of the award include Wole Soyinka of Nigeria, J.M Coetzee and Nadine Gordimer of South Africa.

Gordimer became the first African woman to win the prize in 1991.

Achebe, one of Nigeria’s best writers who died in 2013 in the U.S never won the prize. Thiong’o is likely to join him as some of the best literature writers who failed to win the award.

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