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?
“I’ve been spending a lot of time with my husband’s American cousins, who have a five-year-old daughter. She is fascinated and confused by my ‘Briddish’ accent, which she seems to think at points is something I’m putting on. She invented a game where she’ll point at an object in the room and I have to say the word for it—Carpet! Dump truck!—in my best American accent (which is dreadful, by the way). This had her in stitches. When the laughter had died down, she turned to her parents, suddenly contemplative, and said, ‘Isn’t it amazing that Sarah knows a few words in our language?’” Lily Blacksell interviews T.S. Eliot Prize-winning poet Sarah Howe on how being in the U.S. changes her perception of language, writing in the first-person, and “authenticity.”
Last week, JK Rowling announced that, midway through writing the Harry Potter series, she nearly killed off Ron Weasley “out of spite.” Ron isn’t the first supporting character to narrowly avoid death in an author’s rough draft. The Awl illustrates some of literature’s other close calls with death.