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Ngugi wa Thiong’o at the Stimmen Afrikas Festival in 2018. Photo credit: Herby Sachs/version-foto.de.

It has been a tradition, since the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature went to Peru’s Mario Vargas Llosa, for literary people to wonder when it should be Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s turn. And this year, the perennial favourite is, once again, a favourite. And the twist of 2019—the Swedish Academy’s announcement that it will be giving out two Prizes to make up for the postponement last year due to a sexual scandal—means that Ngugi, who received the Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize in May, does stand his best chance ever.

Earlier today, Monday, 7 October, the Nobel Prizes season officially began with the announcement of the prize in medicine, which will be followed by the prizes for physics on Tuesday, chemistry on Wednesday, literature on Thursday, peace on Friday, and economics on Monday. The British betting site Nicer Odds currently has Ngugi in joint fourth, down one place from last week, with the Canadian poet and essayist Anne Carson still first. Ahead of 10 October, here are the odds.

Here’s an earlier breakdown by Literary Hub when Ngugi was joint-third, before Olga Tokarczuk came up from joint-seventh:

Anne Carson 4/1

Maryse Condé 5/1

Can Xue 8/1

Haruki Murakami 8/1

Lyudmila Ulitskaya 8/1

Ngugi Wa Thiong’o 8/1

Margaret Atwood 10/1

Marilynne Robinson 10/1

Olga Tokarczuk 10/1

Péter Nádas 10/1

Adunis 14/1

Gerald Murnane 14/1

Mircea Cartarescu 14/1

Ya Hua 14/1

Ismail Kadaré 17/1

Javier Marías 20/1

Jon Fosse 20/1

László Krasznahorkai 20/1

Milan Kundera 20/1

Peter Handke 20/1

Yoko Tawada 20/1

César Aira 25/1

Yang Lian 25/1

Ko Un 33/1

Ernesto Cardenal 50/1

George R. R. Martin 250/1

Five Africans have won the Nobel Prize in Literature: Nigeria’s Wole Soyinka in 1986, Egypt’s Naguib Mahfouz in 1988, South Africa’s Nadine Gordimer in 1991, South Africa’s J.M. Coetzee in 2003, and Zimbabwe’s Doris Lessing in 2007. Ngugi has said that winning the prize as “would be validating but not essential.”

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. He sits on the judging panels of The Miles Morland Writing Scholarships and of The Gerald Kraak Prize. He is Nonfiction Editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. He is currently nominated for the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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