The next winner of the biennial Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the prestigious literary award often called the “American Nobel,” will be announced Friday night in Oklahoma.
The prize, sponsored by the University of Oklahoma and the journal World Literature Today, includes a check for $50,000 and a silver eagle feather.
Winners include Nobel laureates Gabriel Garcia Marquez (who won in the Neustadt in 1972, a full a decade before his 1982 Nobel win), Czeslaw Milosz (Neustadt 1978, Nobel 1980), Octavio Paz (Neustadt 1982, Nobel 1990) and Tomas Transtromer (Neustadt 1990, Nobel 2011).
This year’s Neustadt finalists include a few names that came up in the Nobel speculation (and betting) last month and in years past -- most notably, the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami (a favorite of many Nobel oddsmakers). The Neustadt citation of Murakami’s work says his works “combine realism and surrealism and depict over-the-top characters and film noir narrative techniques.”
The other nominees are:
Cesar Aira, of Argentina, whose 1991 novella “Shantytown” (“La Villa” in Spanish) is being published next month in English by New Directions. Aira’s Neustadt citation noted that Aira is known for “his prolific rate of publication, producing two to four novella-length books each year since 1993.”
Mozambican poet, short story writer and novelist Mia Couto.
Vietnamese novelist Duong Thu Huong, whose bestselling works have been banned in her own country, and whose most recent work has been published abroad.
Edward P. Jones, whose 2003 novel “The Known World” won the Pulitzer Prize. Jones is the first male African American writer to be nominated in the 44-year history of the Neustadt.
The Ukrainian American poet Ilya Kaminsky, a winner of the Whiting Writers’ Award.
Chang-rae Lee, the Korean American writer and winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for his novel “Native Speaker.”
Mauritius-born French poet Edouard Maunick, the author of 20 books, whose anthology “Mandela Dead and Alive 1976-2001” was recently published in English in South Africa.
Mexican American poet Cecile Pineda, whose 1985 debut novel “Face” won the California Book Award Gold Medal for Fiction.
Ghassan Zaqtan, a Palestinian novelist and poet, and editor of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s literary magazine Bayader as well as the poetry journal Al-Soua’ra and the literary page of the Ramallah newspaper Al-Ayyam.