As the Swedish Academy enters final deliberations for this year’s Nobel Literature award, permanent secretary Horace Engdahl said it’s no coincidence that most winners are European.
“Of course there is powerful literature in all big cultures, but you can’t get away from the fact that Europe still is the center of the literary world … not the United States,” he told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview Tuesday.
Speaking generally about American literature, however, he said U.S. writers are “too sensitive to trends in their own mass culture,” dragging down the quality of their work.
“The U.S. is too isolated, too insular. They don’t translate enough and don’t really participate in the big dialogue of literature,” Engdahl said. “That ignorance is restraining.”
This made me cry laugh. I’m sorry, but it’s difficult to feel angst over comments that are so antagonistically anti-American. Instead of being a reflection on the quality of writing in this country, Mr. Engdahl’s words reveal a great deal about the integrity and relevancy of the Nobel Literature prize.
Note to Mr Engdahl: “Ignorance is restraining.”