YARBROUGH COLUMN: Passed over for Nobel Prize for literature again this year

Published 2:02 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Rats! Can you believe it? Once again, I have been passed over for the Nobel Prize in Literature. This is beginning to get on my nerves. Some guy named Jon Olav Fosse won it this year. As you may know, the Nobel Committee is located in Sweden and the award went to a Norwegian. Am I am smelling a little Scandinavian home cooking here?

Admittedly a few Americans have won over the years, like Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner and – Bob Dylan? The Nobel Prize in Literature? That’s like Pluto winning Best of Show at the Westminster Kennel Club.

Maybe I should adopt the attitude of Kandiss Taylor and refuse to concede. Taylor, an Appling County educator, ran in the Republican gubernatorial primary against Brian Kemp in 2022 and amassed a whopping 3% of the vote. She says the election was rigged. 

Had she been able to convince Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to find her another 847,000 votes in the primary and been elected governor, Taylor was going to “stand up to the Luciferian Cabal” and “bring the Satanic Regime to its knees.” After that, maybe I could have sicced her on the Nobel Committee. I am having a devil of a time with that bunch.

What did Herr Fosse do to get what rightfully should have been mine? According to the committee, he was recognized for his “innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable.” 

Those guys should have checked my email. My prose gets a lot of responses that are unsayable and some that are even unprintable. RITNOs (Republicans in Trump’s Name Only) think I am a Chardonnay-sipping, left-leaning liberal weenie. Chardonnay-sipping, left-leaning liberal weenies think I am a rightwing subversive intent on overthrowing the government and making Marjorie Taylor Greene empress. As for me, I think both groups share something in common. They couldn’t spot a sense of humor with a flashlight.

In announcing the award, Anders Olsson, chairman of the Nobel committee for literature, said of Fosse, “His huge oeuvre, spanning a variety of genres, comprises about 40 plays and a wealth of novels, poetry collections, essays, children’s books and translations. Fosse blends a rootedness in the language and nature of his Norwegian background with artistic techniques in the wake of modernism.” To which I say, yada, yada, yada. My oeuvre may not be as huge as his oeuvre but at least I can sleep at night, knowing I’m not blending my rootedness in the wake of modernism. I do have my pride.

To the committee, my unblended rootedness happens to be in the language and nature of my Southern background and if that gets your underkläders in a knut, you can kiss my majsmjöl.

One of Fosse’s books described by the committee as his magnum opus — which I thought was a bottle of champagne — contains no sentence breaks (or as we pros in the trade call it, sentence boundary disambiguation) meaning it is not clear where sentences begin and end. In my defense, I’ve been doing that for years. In fact, I’m not always sure where my thoughts begin and end. Just ask the editor. 

While Jon Olav Fosse is the fourth Norwegian writer to get the Nobel literature prize, he is the first who writes in Nynorsk, one of the two official written versions of the Norwegian language. I don’t know why that is such a big deal. I write in Southern which is the unofficial written version of all the territory below the Mason-You-Know-Who line. That’s a lot harder to understand than Nynorsk.

When we say we are going to carry momma to the grocery store, folks who speak English – the other unofficial language in our country – have visions of us hefting the poor old lady on our shoulders and carting her up and down the aisles while she does her shopping. And when we talk about fixing our dinner, they wonder what part of the meal needs to be repaired? Bless their hearts. Or as they say in Nynorsk – Bla hjerter sine.

This is going to hurt awhile but I am not giving up. In fact, this is really about you. You deserve a Nobel Prize Winner in Literature sharing his wit and wisdom with you on these pages each week. I feel your pain. And I promise when I win, I will keep the $1 million that goes with the prize, but I will give you all the glory. After all, we are a team.