John Banville looks at the “persistently grim cheerfulness” of the Irish people.
Ladbrokes, the popular bookmaker, has correctly predicted the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature with “a 50 percent accuracy rate” over the past eight years. This remarkable record is noteworthy because the oddsmakers do not actually read any of the books, and they do not go about “forming an opinion about the relative merits of each author.” Instead, the folks responsible for each year’s odds “appl[y] a numerical value to things like industry chatter, an author’s nationality, historical precedent.” So, that in mind, how confident do you feel about Haruki Murakami’s chances?
“Year-end lists are always subjective and incomplete, but they are especially tricky for books. A dedicated film critic can watch every wide release film and a theater critic can go to most every play, but the book critic is faced with an insurmountable mountain of books each year. The sheer number of books is inspiring as a reader, but it can make “best of” lists laughably subjective when the critic has only read a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of books published each year.” This might help to explain the logic and intent of our own Year in Reading series, but it also prefaces Electric Literature‘s list of the top 25 story collections of 2014 (which includes recent Year in Reading alum Phil Klay‘s Redeployment).