Is It Finally Haruki Murakami's Year? Nobel Prize Betting Odds Put The Author Near The Top


For over 100 years, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to a writer for "the most outstanding work in an ideal direction," per the will of creator Alfred Nobel. Past winners have included Alice Munro, Orhan Pamuk, Winston Churchill and, uh, last year's dark horse, Bob Dylan. Given the recent shake-up - many wondered whether Dylan qualified for a literature prize, while Dylan himself remained silent on the matter for nearly a year - people have now started betting on the 2017 Nobel Prize. It's getting a little hot in here, don't you think?

Since its founding in 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature, awarded by the Swedish Academy, has become one of the most prestigious prizes in the literary world, perhaps because it draws on a creator as a whole, rather than on one specific work. The perks of winning aren't too shabby, either: a nearly $900,000 cash prize, the acceptance of which is contingent on an original lecture, and bragging rights for all eternity.

Last year, Bob Dylan joined the hallowed ranks of literary superstars "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." His win was considered an upset to multi-year favorite, prolific Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami. Murakami is once again on the supposed shortlist this year.

Both Ladbrokes and NicerOdds, two UK sports betting giants, have begun including literature prizes in their online offerings. Along with the Nobel, Ladbrokes is currently taking bets on the Man Booker Prize, awarded to the best original novel published in the UK and written in English. Also on the docket? The Turner Prize, a prestigious visual arts award. Over at NicerOdds, the Nobel Peace Prize and Time's Person of the Year are both in full swing.

In keeping with Nobel tradition, the announcement date for the Nobel Prize in Literature has yet to be set, although it will "probably occur" during the first or second week in October, according to the Prize's official website. On "a Monday" (yes, they are really this vague and yes, I think they relish keeping us on edge), a press release will alert the media to the official announcement, which will take place on the following Thursday at 1pm. The prize will be announced by the Swedish Academy's permanent secretary, Sara Danius.

In diving deep into the world of betting for this article, I've learned that folks are willing to stake money on just about anything, so long as they're teased with a nice reward. For all of you bookworms eager to wade into the betting world, keep reading for the top five Nobel Prize 2017 odds.

Oh, and if you like to live dangerously, there are currently six folks slated at 100/1: Karl Ove Knausgard, Kamau Brathwaite, James Kelman, Hilary Mantel, F. Sioni Jose, Don Patterson and A. S. Byatt. Who knows, you might get lucky. Really, really lucky.

Ngugi Wa Thiong'o


The Kenyon author and playwright, whose odds for winning the 2017 Nobel Prize currently hover at 4/1, has been covering the effect of Britain's East African colonialism for decades.

His first book, Weep Not, Child (Heinemann, 1964), was the first English-language novel published by an East African writer. Upon the release of his third novel, A Grain of Wheat (Heinemann, 1967), Thiong'o renounced Christianity and began publishing in Gikuyu, his native language. He has since written essays, novels, short stories, plays and children's books, and held teaching positions at Yale and New York University.

Click here to buy Weep Not, Child and A Grain of Wheat.

Haruki Murakami


Haruki Murakami, the prolific Japanese writer whose work has been translated into over 50 languages, has essentially become the Leonardo diCaprio of the Nobel Prize in Literature. This year, he's looking at 5/1 odds, according to UK betting giant Ladbrokes.

Since the release of his first book in 1979, Murakami has subsequently published 13 novels, three short story collections and an illustrated novella. That's not even counting his occasional non-fiction ventures.

Margaret Atwood


Perhaps unsurprisingly, Canadian writer Margaret Atwood is currently seated third in Ladbroke's odds, coming in at 6/1. The Handmaid's Tale, one of 15 novels by Atwood, was made into a monumentally successful Hulu series earlier this year.

Atwood has gained renown for her unsettlingly subtle sci-fi and surrealist fiction, as well as her environmental activism and support of the Canadian writing community.

Click here to buy The Handmaid's Tale.

Amos Oz, Claudio Magris and Javier Marias

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Oz is currently tied with Claudio Magris and Javier Marias at 10/1. Oz is an Israeli novelist, with 14 books under his belt, and an advocate for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine situation.

Claudio Magris is an Italian writer, translator and scholar whose essays and columns have been syndicated in numerous European newspapers. He's also the creator of several panoramic non-fiction books.

Javier Marias is Spain's golden boy. The novelist and translator's works have been translated into 42 languages; 15 are currently available in English.