The Nobel Prize for Literature

The Nobel Prize for Literature is probably the most famous literary award. Awarded annually in Stockholm in November, the award is named for industrialist Alfred Nobel (1833-1896). He specified in his will that funds be established for awards in a variety of fields including medicine, physics, chemistry, and literature. The literary prize is awarded to an individual whose contribution in the field of literature is the "most distinguished work of an idealistic tendency." Because this award is so prestigious the selection process is quite guarded and sometimes quite controversial, often raising speculation as to why certain authors haven't received it. There have been seven years the award was not granted and at least two recipients who have refused the prize, including John Paul Sartre in 1925 and Boris Pasternak in 1958. Because the award honors a body of work rather than a single volume, the prize has been traditionally given to writers in their later years.


Mo Yan