STOCKHOLM: With just hours to go before the announcement of this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, most bets were still on Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami.
Alice Munro of Canada and Belarussian Svetlana Alexievich were also given a fair chance of winning a prize that has historically been awarded to literary icons ranging from Rudyard Kipling to Ernest Hemingway and Albert Camus.
“We have decided,” Swedish Academy permanent secretary Peter Englund wrote on his blog on Monday.
But nothing else will be known about the identity of the winner before it is announced on Thursday at 11 a.m. local time, inside the historic halls of the Bourse building in central Stockholm.
Murakami, known across the globe for works such as “Norwegian Wood,” “Kafka on the Shore” and “1Q84,” tops the list at bookmaker Ladbrokes with 5/2 odds.
Also high on Ladbrokes’ list of favorites is Canadian Alice Munro with odds of 4/1, and Belarussian Svetlana Alexievich with 6/1 odds.
If Murakami wins the laurels, it will be a choice that will delight millions of readers.
The 64-year-old has attracted an avid following with his intricately crafted tales of the absurdity and loneliness of modern life, which are peppered with references to pop culture.
Munro, meanwhile, is a writer of short stories, a genre that has only rarely been recognized by the Nobel committee, and Alexievich is known for writing first-person witness accounts of exquisite quality.
Exactly what deliberations are behind the final pick will not be known for another 50 years, the period during which the academy’s records are kept confidential.
The winner, who will succeed Chinese novelist Mo Yan, the 2012 laureate, will receive eight million Swedish kroner ($1.24 million, 915,000 euros).