Are American Writers Too Insular to Win the Nobel Prize?

Enghal: This dude just doesn’t get us.

Horace Engdahl, the top member of the award jury for the Nobel Prize for Literature, has openly declared his belief that American writers are far too “isolated,” “insular,” and “ignorant,” and that their work does not “participate in the big dialogue of literature.” The Swedish literary critic further explained that writers in the United States are “too sensitive to trends in their own mass culture,” which in turn damages the quality of the work and prevents it from fitting in with trends in European literature.

Inevitably, Engdahl’s comments have fueled ire in American literary circles, inciting a particularly harsh response from New Yorker editor David Remnick, who questions the judgment of an academy that has consistently passed over major figures such as Nabokov, Joyce, and Proust. Harold Augenbraum, the executive director of the foundation that administers the National Book Awards, charges that Engdahl “has read little of American literature outside the mainstream and has a very narrow view of what constitutes as literature in this age.” All the indignation and offense is justified, but let’s stay calm. Clearly Engdahl is just letting his outsize love of Harry Potter color his perceptions.

Nobel Literature Head: US Too Insular to Compete [AP]

Are American Writers Too Insular to Win the Nobel Prize?