Thursday, October 7, 2010

Murnane Wins Nobel Prize

I am stunned and thrilled beyond words--stunned and thrilled despite the spiralling rumors in recent days--that the great Australian novelist Gerald Murnane has won the Nobel Prize. Murnane is the author of nine books, including five novels--Tamarisk Row, A Lifetime on Clouds, The Plains, Inland, and last year's superb Barley Patch--three books of short stories,  Landscape with Landscape, Velvet Waters, and Emerald Blue, and the invaluable essay collection--which I believe is the work that first garnered him this new spate of attentoon--Invisible Yet Enduring Lilacs. Murnane is a special writer-he is self-reflexive, steeped in his homegrown version of narrative theory, in the tradition of Borges and Nabokov (neither of whom won a Nobel, so Murnane's win is in a way posthumous vindication). Murnane is a cosmopolitan writer who makes easy reference to  Latin American and Eastern European writers and motifs, yet in his obsessions--with grasslands, with horse racing, with destinies lost and hopes never realized--he is indelibly Australian. His fascination with the Hungarian language--for him it is very nearly a sacred tongue--is in a sense a figure for all the strains of lyricism, yearning, and ironic distance that suffuse his work.

I am pleased to  have been able to  read his work for so long, and to have written several pieces on it, and even more to have met and corresponded with the man himself, but the pleasure should now be all the myriad readers who now gain access to the treasure trove of literary craft and dedication that awaits them.

1 comment:

Nicholas Birns said...

The citation sounds downright Foucauldian! Or Foucauldian-existential!

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2010 was awarded to Mario Vargas Llosa "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat".