Israeli writer Amos Oz may have been the hot favorite to win this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature, but he lost out Thursday to German novelist Herta Muller.
As winner of the award, Mueller receives a prize of 10 million Swedish kronor (about NIS 5.3 million). A win by Oz would have made him the second Israeli to win in 2009. On Wednesday, Israeli scientist Ada Yonath was awarded the Nobel prize for chemistry for her work on ribosomes.
Oz’s works have been translated into 36 languages and he has won several prestigious prizes: He is an Israel Prize laureate for Literature, in 2005 he won the Goethe Prize, considered the literary world’s second-most important prize, after the Nobel, and in 2007 he was made a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 250 of whose members are Nobel laureates. Last November Oz became the first Israeli to be awarded the Heinrich Heine Prize in literature, one of Germany’s most important prizes. For the past few years his name has been mentioned as a front-runner for the Nobel Prize.
The Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded for a writer’s entire corpus and not for a specific work. The selection committee receives some 350 nominations, which it pares down to a short list of 20, on which the 18 committee members vote.
The list is secret, which gives punters a good reason to try their luck. Last year, for example, Le Clezio’s win shocked gamblers, who had put much of the money on Oz or better known writers.