Monday, January 21, 2008

The Ellstrom Award for Literature

Dear Alfred Nobel,

I recently ran across this quote:

My dynamite will sooner lead to peace than a thousand world
conventions. As soon as men will find that in one instant, whole armies
can be utterly destroyed, they surely will abide by golden peace.
~Alfred Nobel

Didn't they say that later about the atomic bomb, too? I think your later endeavor, the one that kind of got kicked off after you did, has done more than dynamite to foster the peace process. At least once a year it gets us to think about peace again and who is contributing to it.

Sometimes I wonder about how the folks who snag the Nobel Prize for Literature are contributing to peace. Excellent writing does not necessarily encourage peace. Some writers seem determined to just write, and they, embracing Heidegger's thinking "language speaks man," perhaps don't vie for the peacemaking consequences of their words. But some authors do embrace the connection I think. Are those the ones who get the prize?

Anyhow, thinking about all this has led me to set up my own award for literature, The Ellstrom Award. There is no cash prize for this. It is just my own little tip of a hat to what I think is fine. I named it the Ellstrom Award because my grandfather Ellstrom came from Sweden and your nordic influence played into my decision. I am making this award to the book not the author. I am choosing from a slim field, just the books I read this year, a list of which you will find at:
Books I Read This Year—2007.

I'm wondering if this should be the 2007 award or the 2008 award?

Here are the books that are in contention:

The Last Gentleman—Walker Percy
The Plague—Albert Camus
The Sand Child—Tahar Ben Jelloun
Black Boy—Richard Wright
Lolita—by Vladimir Nabokov

As you can see, this isn't an obscure list. Who could say I'm not making a good choice, whichever one I choose? They all are really fine works. In fact, I'm going to have to think some more about this. If you have an opinion to express on this, I'll take it into consideration.


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