When Alice Munro won a few years ago, I realized that she was the first Nobel laureate I had read before she won the prize. Mostly I've read them afterwards.
So, when I set a goal for 2017 to read a broader array of world literature, one aspect was to read works by some of the authors I've not read before who are often mentioned in contention for the prize. A few listed in the running I have read over the years, Haruki Murakami being the best example. I've enjoyed some of his books and been puzzled by others and have sort of given up reading them. I'm ambivalent if he ever wins the prize.
Then there are those I've long wondered why they aren't mentioned seriously in the running or have never won, Salman Rushdie being the best example. Given that he represented literature's value with his own life, this has always puzzled me, as the Nobel committee often likes to make a political statement and not just a literary one. They must have some reason they don't like him.
It also seems that some writers whose names were mentioned more often at one point begin to fade over the years, Nuruddin Farah being an example. I liked well enough his book Links, which I read this year.
If I was voting, I would vote for the Syrian poet Adonis. I marveled at the volume of his selected poems which I read. It was among the best books I've read this year. It has been something of a surprise that he has not won during these last five years of the Syrian civil war.
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o has been mentioned for years and seems to be the odds on favourite this year. With great anticipation I read his novel Devil on the Cross, which I had also read about in some books on postcolonial theology. But I was very unimpressed by the book. Maybe his reputation is based upon other works, but this was the one I thought was considered his masterwork. So, while awarding the prize to an African writing in his indigenous language is a good thing (is this why Achebe never won?), I can't say I'll be excited if Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o takes the prize.
Amos Oz would be a worthy recipient. I admired the writing in his memoir I read this year, though I judged the book needed some editing.
I did not like László Krasznahorkai's The Melancholy of Resistance and don't understand his international reputation.
I quite liked César Aira's An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter and look forward to reading more of his works.
Of course there are many writers mentioned in the running whom I've not read. But I do hope this year especially to have read the author who will be honored.