Nobel Prize announcements just around the corner

Last year former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari won the peace prize for his mediation efforts. Photo Martti Ahtisaari/World Economic Forum.

The annual guessing game is in full swing for the winners of the 2009 Nobel prizes, and bets are on for likely literature and peace laureates, writes Monster and Critics.

With a record 205 nominations for the 2009 peace prize, there appeared to be even more room for speculation ahead of the October 9 announcement in Oslo, Norway.

Muddying the waters was the fact that the five-member Norwegian Nobel Committee has had two new members since 2008, including Norwegian Parliament Speaker Thorbjørn Jagland who heads the committee.

Last year former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari won the peace prize for his mediation efforts. This year, Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was betting site Unibet’s favourite at 4 to 1. He was shadowed by Chinese dissident Hu Jia at 6 to 1 while Russian human rights activist Lidia Yusupova was on 7.50 to 1.

The betting site offered 15 to 1 for the Cluster Munitions Coalition (CMC), one of 33 organizations nominated this year. The CMC lobbied for a global ban against the weapons, criticized for carrying a high risk of maiming or killing civilians, often children. Another source for peace prize names is a list compiled by the head of the Oslo-based International Peace Resarch Institute (PRIO).

Kristian Berg Haprviken, who in July took over as PRIO director, makes a case for individuals taking on ‘protracted armed conflicts.’ His shortlist was topped by Senator Piedad Cordoba of Colombia who for years has been engaged in negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and also helped secure the release of hostages held by the left-wing rebels.

Former FARC hostage Ingrid Betancourt, a former presidential candidate held for over six years, has reportedly been nominated by President Michelle Bachelet of Chile. Unibet had Betancourt at 8 to 1.

Harpviken’s two other top candidates were Prince Gahzi bin Muhammed of Jordan, an Islamic scholar who has promoted interfaith dialogue, and Sima Samar, UN special envoy to the troubled Darfur province in Sudan. She also heads Afghanistan’s human rights commission.

Speculation on the literature prize shifted into top gear with the Swedish Academy’s confirmation that its announcement is due on Thursday, October 8. French author Jean-Marie le Clezio won last year’s prize. Speculation for possible 2009 literature winners has included US authors Thomas Pynchon, Philip Roth and Joyce Carol Oates as well as Korean poet Ko Un. Amos Oz of Israel tops bookmaker Ladbrookes list of writers and poets with the odds 5 to 1. He is shadowed by Algerian-born Assia Djebar of France and Oates, both at 6 to 1. Others at the top of the Ladbrokes list were perennials including Syrian-born poet Adonis (Ali Ahmad Said Asbar) and Pynchon. The list included Italians Antonio Tabucchi and Claudio Magris, and Haruki Murakami of Japan.

Odds for US singer-songwriter Bob Dylan were 26 to 1, a sizeable drop compared to 2008 when he was at 101 to 1, Ladbrokes said. Also at 26 to 1 were Canadian writers Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood, Don DeLillo of the US, Juan Marse of Spain and Ngugi wa Thiong’o of Kenya. A surprise name on Ladbrokes was Spanish author Luis Goytisolo, brother of the better-known author Juan Goytisolo. Swedish industrialist and dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel endowed the awards. Each prize is worth 10 million kronor (1.4 million dollars).

Nobels are also awarded for other fields. Award announcements were due for medicine (October 5), physics (October 6) and chemistry (October 7). The economic sciences prize – a prize not originally endowed by Nobel and awarded since 1968 – is due to be announced October 12.

The award ceremonies are held in Stockholm, Sweden and Oslo, Norway on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel’s 1896 death in San Remo, Italy.

Source: M&C

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