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Oz on yellow brick road to Nobel glory?

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dorisIt’s that time of year again. Although we don’t yet know the exact date of the announcement, in the next few weeks the Swedish Academy will decide on the 2009 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, probably the writing world’s biggest award.

The bookies are already out of the blocks, and it is Israeli writer and professor Amos Oz, regularly considered a favourite in recent years, who is tipped for glory this time around. Ladbrokes in Britain make him the 4/1 frontrunner, ahead of Algeria’s Assia Djebar (5/1), Spain’s Luis Goytisolo (6/1), America’s Joyce Carol Oates and her compatriot (and perennial Nobel Prize also-ran) Philip Roth, both on 7/1.amos

Ladbrokes feels that the perceived bias against U.S. authors among Swedish scholars could scupper the chances of Oates and Roth once again. The United States must go back 16 years, with Toni Morrison, for its last Nobel Prize in Literature.

But before we get too carried away with the odds, Ladbrokes has tipped the eventual winner only twice in the last seven years – J.M. Coetzee in 2003 and Orhan Pamuk in 2006. Doris Lessing, who won in 2007, was one of several outsiders to take the big prize in recent years.

Best of Booker – but can Rushdie lose?

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rushdie.jpgThe Best of the Booker title is handed out this week, with the public choosing between six shortlisted authors who have won the coveted literary prize over the last 40 years. Bookies are reporting that 90 percent of bets placed on the outcome have gone to Salman Rushdie for “Midnight’s Children”, giving him odds of 1/7, the shortest price in the history of the annual prize.

The betting odds clearly favour Rushdie, the most instantly recognisable name among nominees and therefore the writer most likely to appeal to the punters. Rushdie spent many years in hiding after a death warrant was issued against him by Muslims angry at his novel “The Satanic Verses”. Since he emerged from the shadows, he has become a literary celebrity through his high profile on the party curcuit and his marriage to the glamorous Padma Lakshmi, which ended in divorce last year.

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