Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer is the 2011 Nobel laureate in literature, nobelprize.org informed yesterday. In its statement, the Nobel committee said it awarded the 80-year-old poet “because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality.” He wins the £942,000 prize – the richest in the world of books.
Earlier today, Nobel Prize Permanent Secretary Peter Englund has branded the wild betting for this year’s Literature award “crazy speculation” after singer Bob Dylan had become the favourite to win the 2011 prize, which was announced at midday. Dylan was 100/1 to win last week but a rush of bets meant his odds tumbled to 5/1. The Nobel Committee never releases the names of writers who are under consideration and Englund, a Swedish author and historian, added, quoted by www.telegraph.co.uk : “ They contain a lot which is just plain speculation. They have to have someone at the bottom of the list, which gives 150 times the money or something, so obviously they have to let in someone who is completely unlikely, some literary UFO.”
Thus, Tranströmer becomes the eighth European to win the world’s premier literary award in the last 10 years, following the German novelist Herta Müller in 2009, the French writer JMG le Clézio in 2008 and the British novelist Doris Lessing in 2007. Tranströmer’s surreal explorations of the inner world and its relation to the jagged landscape of his native country have been translated into 50 languages, the Guardian writes.
Born in Stockholm in 1931, Tranströmer studied at the University of Stockholm and worked as a psychologist at an institution for young offenders. His first collection of poetry, 17 Dikter (17 Poems, was published in 1954, while he was still at college. Collections including Hemligheter på vägen (1958) and Klangar och spår (1966) reflected on his travels in the Balkans, Spain and Africa, while the poems in Östersjöar (1974) examine the troubled history of the Baltic region through the conflict between sea and land.
He suffered a stroke in 1990 which affected his ability to talk, but has continued to write, with his collection Sorgegondolen going on to sell 30,000 copies on its pubilcation in 1996. At a recent appearance in London, his words were read by others, while the poet, who is a keen amateur musician, contributed by playing pieces specially composed for him to play on the piano with only his left hand. Tranströmer has described his poems as “meeting places,” where dark and light, interior and exterior collide to give a sudden connection with the world, history or ourselves. According to the poet, “The language marches in step with the executioners. Therefore we must get a new language.”