Here’s video of Nobel Prize literature judge Horace Engdahl responding to a question about what American literature he reads by saying, “All of ’em, any of ’em that have been in front of me over all these years.” Just kidding, he’s chatting about famous non-American author Doris Lessing:
Some more responses in the past 24 hours:
Harvard English prof James Engell, in the Harvard Crimson: “[I]t is not clear what [Engdahl] is talking about. Is he talking about American publishers, American writers, American institutions?”
Michael Dirda in the Guardian: “My general reaction is that he is just betraying an insular attitude towards a very diverse country.”
At the American Prospect, Dana Goldstein echoes that sentiment, calling out Junot Diaz, Ha Jin, Denis Johnson, and Annie Proulx for special attention.
The Chicago Tribune‘s Julia Keller, who’s apparently no longer getting edited: “There is a sweep and a vigor and a swagger and a dash about the United States, even amid our woes, and our literature reflects that. Shrinking violets, we’re not. We aim high, dream big—and sometimes, tumble hard. But we love a good comeback story.”
And Engdahl himself tells a Swedish paper that he hasn’t read the article that caused the foofaraw in the first place:
In a letter to newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, Engdahl said he had not yet read the article but had the impression he had been misunderstood.
“The Nobel Prize is not an international competition but a reward for individual authors. It is important to remember this when feelings of national pride are running high,” he said.