Tag Archives: noble prize winners

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett


It was the Times review that made me choose the book in my pursuit of reading all authors on the Noble prize in literature list: “One of the most noble and moving plays of our generation, a threnody of hope deceived and deferred but never extinguished; a play suffused with tenderness for the whole human perplexity; with phrases that come like a sharp stab of beauty and pain.”—The Times (London).410Gy48yLzL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-67,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

Beckett got his noble prize for literature in 1969. It is my first encounter with Beckett. Paul Auster is right “Reading Beckett for the first time is an experience like no other in modern literature.”

My feminist friend would call the play sexist. “Where are female characters?!” is her usual criticism in such cases and not even the great Becket can escape her criticism, knowing in particular that Beckett famously objected when, in the 1980s, several women’s acting companies began to stage the play. Beckett was quoted as saying “Women don’t have prostates”, a reference to the fact that Vladimir frequently has to leave the stage to urinate.

To me, this is a play about human character, gender neutral. Hope and despair, pain and relief, human support and disappointment, laughs and tears, non sense and struggle are genderless.

This book is minimalist poetry that brings existentialism to unexpected levels as the story evolves. I’ve seen myself in Vladimir and Estragon as they wait for Godot, someone or something they do not even know, but hope to get to know. The boy who comes with news from Godot is hope and future incarnated. The slave Lucky is the allegory for change of perspective to me. A slave can still be lucky and luck is very much a subjective beast. Being led versus leading. Who is the lucky one? In Beckett’ s words, “he is lucky to have no more expectations.”

That willow at the end of the play is both tearful and hopeful. Russians call a willow “iva plakuchaea”, a willow which cries. Tears of sadness or tears of joy. Quite symbolic. As it is the case with the entire book.

Three in one go: Muller, Llossa, Murakami


I missed writing. There is no better way to fill in the void by reading others beautiful writings.

At one of my latest visits to a bookshop, my eyes fell on three book covers:

Traveling on One Leg by Herta Muller

The bad girl by Mario Varga Llossa

and South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami.

A heavy Kindle reader, my hands missed the feel and touch of paper printed books (forgive me, Swedish trees!). Muller and Llossa are to follow my Read all Noble Prize Winners in Literature project. Murakami was a bonus, for my devotion to my project.

I literally devoured these three books in three weeks.1

Inhaling the scary and longed after freedom of a young woman forcedly-voluntarily exiting her birth country to antagonize with accepting her homesickness facing an unknown future in an unknown country in Herta’s Muller’s minimalist yet dissecting style brought the feeling of gratitude for values we seem to accept as ordinary. The protagonist is not alone: three other male characters join her. Yet, one cannot escape the feeling of loneliness that transpires through this book. The protagonist’s trajectory might be easily Herta’s or of million of people rejected by/displaced from their homeland and antagonizing with their newly found land, which they wish to call ‘home’.

2It was the disparate reviews of The bad girl (see e.g. in The Guardian  http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/jan/12/fiction2 and New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/14/books/review/Harrison.html?pagewanted=all that guided my choice. A girl in search of self devastates on her way the life of a man who is in and out of her life for almost four decades.  The human nature is nuanced at its best: devotion repaid with infidelity, care – with cruelty, generosity with abandonment. At a point I lost my patience with the female character, just to realise that I might as well be looking into the mirror :). Some say there is little new in the plight. True, but Llossa refreshing, spiraling and truly reader-respectful style is what stays with me after having had finished with the Bad Girl.


I found „Murakami’s wisest and most compelling fiction” a kind of tribute to love on its own right. South of the Border, West of the Sun attempts to anchor the search for love in romantically nested realism or realistically nested romantism, if you wish. Childhood ideals may fade away or invade adult life but it doesn’t mean they are wrong. It’s just what they are. Boasting one’s life for the sake of a childhood memory of love is momentarily painful, as the protagonist will tell you in this book. Not cherishing the gifts of life at each stage is eternally painful, is my take away message from this book.

With my void filled by the greatest of greatest, I am turning now to another exhilarating author of the XXth Century – Gao Xingjian, the first Chinese recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. With care for Swedish trees, I’ll turn on my Kindle now.