The Nobel Prize is awarded to a living writer for his or her body of work. Last year, Canadian short story writer
The British betting house Ladbrokes takes wagers on the race; as of this writing, they have Haruki Murakami and Ngugi Wa Thiong'o tied in first place at 4/1.
While fans can watch the progress in an actual physical race between runners or cars or horses, the deliberations for the Nobel are conducted entirely in secret. Which means that the contenders who make the Ladbrokes list may be more the result of rumor and popular opinion than anything else.
That's what happened with Bob Dylan, who for the last few years has made the list as a long-shot favorite. Placing more for his lyrical output than his books, Dylan is currently on the Ladbroke's list at 25/1. But will he win? Probably not.
American writers Philip Roth (12/1), Joyce Carol Oates (16/1), Thomas Pynchon (25/1), Don Delillo (33/1) and Cormac McCarthy (50/1) are on the Ladbrokes list.
It also includes names far less familiar to most American readers: Belarusian journalist Svetlana Aleksijevitj (6/1), Polish poet Adam Zagajewski (20/1), Egyptian writer Nawal El Saadawi (20/1), Chinese poet Bei Dao (25/1), and South African novelist Karel Schoeman (33/1).
The Nobel Prize is scheduled to be awarded to one of these writers -- or any other -- Thursday morning.