Perhaps you have heard, British author, Doris Lessing has won the Nobel Prize for literature. I’ve been reading her books for over 30 years and thoroughly have enjoyed her increased feistiness as she has gotten older. In the first volume of her autobiography, Under My Skin, she talks about “signing for her supper,” her crack at the publicity tours necessary to sell books in this day and age.
Here is a story from the Publishers Lunch newsletter:
“Doris Lessing told reporters yesterday after the announcement of her Noble victory: “I can’t say I’m overwhelmed with surprise. . . . I’m 88 years old and they can’t give the Nobel to someone who’s dead, so I think they were probably thinking they’d probably better give it to me now before I’ve popped off.”
She also said, “This has been going on for 30 years. I’ve won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one, so I’m delighted to win them all. It’s a royal flush.”
Academy secretary Horace Engdahl told Reuters that “members of the academy had discussed her as a potential laureate for years.” He said: “Now the moment was right. Perhaps we could say that she is one of the most carefully considered decisions in the history of the Nobel Prize. She has opened up a new area of experience that earlier had not been very accepted in literature. That has to do with, for instance, female sexuality.”
Meanwhile, NYT reporter Motoko Rich sent a dispatch from the Fair via the Papercuts blog, reporting on reaction to the Doris Lessing news. In the jubilant Harper booth, Patrice Hoffman from France’s Flammarion noted “Lessing’s reputation in France has been revived with the publication of ‘The Grandmothers,’ a short story that originally appeared in a volume with three other shorter works. The story, about two mothers who have sexual relationships with each other’s sons, has sold 40,000 copies in France.” Harper was intrigued by the possibility of doing the same.”
I read ‘The Grandmothers‘ this spring and have to tell you it was a downright ungrandmotherly story, not the sweetness and light you might expect. Read that book, and be piqued by Lessing’s ageless eye as she (once again) dissects man’s (and woman’s) foibles. At 88, she is the oldest winner of this prize.
It’s about time.