Is The Nobel Prize Being Dumbed Down?

Jon Fosse has won raves from critics, but is he equal to Ernest Hemingway, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Annie Ernaux?

Dec 30, 2023
Dimitris Passas

NOTE: This article is a republication- Source: Medium (by Janice Harayda).

Could you write like a Nobel Prize winner? The real question might be: Would you want to?

The first two sentences of A Shining, the new book by Norway’s Jon Fosse, winner of the 2023 prize for literature, are: “I was taking a drive. It was nice.”

“It was nice”?

That opener is so bland, a writing teacher might mark you down a grade for it, and if you didn’t get your story back on track fast, you could get an “F.” If you didn’t know who wrote that line, you might think it came from one of those Mitch Albom novels with titles like The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

No match for ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’

If you don’t see a problem with Fosse’s opener, compare it with the first line of Love in the Time of Cholera, by the 1982 laureate Gabriel García Márquez: “It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.”

Or compare it with that of The Remains of the Day by 2017 winner Kazuo Ishiguro: “It seems increasingly likely that I really will undertake the expedition that has been preoccupying my imagination now for some days.”

Or reach back to 1948 when the Swedish Academy honored T.S. Eliot for poems like “The Waste Land,” which begins with the immortal “April is the cruellest month, breeding / Lilacs out of dead land.”

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