Swedish Poet Wins Nobel Prize

October 6, 2011 | 5 books mentioned 10

Tomas Transtromer, the 80-year-old poet, became the first Swedish laureate since 1974. The Nobel committee gave Transtromer the award “because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality.” He is the first poet to take the $1.5 million prize since Polish poet Wisława Szymborska in 1996. The Associated Press called Transtromer a “perennial favorite,” and indeed he has ranked high in the betting odds in each of the last several years. The AP also noted that Transtromer suffered a stroke in 1990 that left him half-paralyzed but that he has continued to write. A number of collections of his poetry have been published in translation. Here are a few:

The Half-Finished Heaven: The Best Poems of Tomas Tranströmer
The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems
For The Living And The Dead
Truth Barriers
The Deleted World


Bonus Link: Solitude (I) by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Robin Robertson

created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.


  1. Didn’t this guy die like a couple days ago? I wouldn’t be surprised. If they wanted to give it to a dead guy why not one of the nineteenth century great Russians, unless they have a one week expiration date, or something like that.

    Also, was this guy really a transformer or was that just his name? Because that would explain a lot, giving the prize to a transformer — one moment a killing machine, the second some dweeby poet, the third a compact car! — even if he was dead. Transformers are cool.

  2. I don’t know. Sometimes I like to leave the comments from morons up for posterity so that we do not forget there are morons in their midst. Also, my fervent but likely too optimistic hope is that the likes of ML will one day return and be embarassed that such an inane comment has been sitting there all this time.

  3. I was so hoping Transtromer would win this year (comfortably before he passes away . . . ). Hooray!

    As to M.s one nearly cogent thought, Ralph M. Steinman, one of the 3 winners of the Nobel Prize for Medicine this year, died after the award was granted but before the announcement of the award was made. The Committee has decided that the award will stand.

  4. I think this year I’m going to do something different and not complain about the fact that my choice (Roth) did not win the prize. I will simply go on appreciating the work of the authors that I love and no that Nobel or not they bring me a great deal of joy.

    I’ll also take this as an opportunity to discover something new. I’ve heard the name Transtromer before since his name has been thrown around for the past few years as someone who is expected to receive the prize. I have never really sought out his work, however, and in general I haven’t always been a great follower of poetry, especially more contemporary poets.

    There’s always some eccentricity and unpredictability associated with this prize and I’ve come to accept that.

  5. I agree wholeheartedly with the morons being left up for posterity. If you’re gonna hate, hate with a reason, a rationale, a purpose, rather than sequestering yourself in the anonymous space of the internet, like a real contrarian…

    No disrespect to Mr. Roth but I’m glad the Pultizer went to a poet I’d never heard of, just because now myself and plenty of more people will be exposed to the work. And besides an octagenarian gets a nice payday before he shuffles off the mortal coil…Isn’t that what these kinds of prizes are for, anyway?

  6. Jesus, The Millions, take yourself a little more seriously. Pretty sure ML was making a joke. Maybe you thought it was a bad joke. Fine. Move on with your day. Perhaps I type this because I’m 23 and not yet full of despair and misdirected anger.

    I know we’re talking about Literature and Prizes and Opinions, but man, unclench your collective buttholes.

    (Seriously, not related to ML in any way.)

  7. I hold out no hope for Roth winning the Nobel and I don’t think it matters. I KNOW who Roth is.

    I am not familiar with Transtromer and I am now gifted with something new to read. This is always great. As problematic as major literary awards can be, they are such a bonus for those of us seeking out something new and noteworthy.

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