Nobel prize in literature: Munro emerges as second favourite to Murakami

With the prize due to be announced on Thursday, bookmakers put the Canadian short-story writer just behind Haruki Murakami

Who will win the Nobel prize in literature? - live updates

Short story supremo Alice Munro has made an eleventh-hour leap to become second favourite to win this year's Nobel prize for literature. Ladbrokes are now quoting odds of 4-1 on Munro claiming the prize when it is announced on Thursday, putting her behind only Haruki Murakami, who has been the favourite since the book opened and is now at 5-2.

Munro, a perennial contender for the Nobel, is considered one of the world's greatest living short-story writers. Her tales of small town Canadian life explore the big themes of life, love and death. She began writing in the late 1960s, and in June – following last year's publication of a collection including four biographical shorts, Dear Life – she announced her intention to retire.

In 2009, Munro won the £60,000 Man Booker International prize for her body of work, which the judges called "practically perfect".

Waiting for the Nobel prize for literature to be announced can be like waiting for the next Pope to be named: the judging process is steeped in secrecy and the Swedish Academy, which makes the award, gives just a few days' notice of when the news will be made public.

As ever, the resulting mystery has fuelled speculation as to who is in the running. In third place this year, with odds of 6-1, is Svetlana Alexievich, a Belarusian investigative journalist and prose writer whose works in English include Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War and Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster.

American Joyce Carol Oates and Hungarian Péter Nádas are in joint fourth position at 8-1.

Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse, whose odds shortened dramatically last week after a flurry of bets in his home country, is now in sixth place with odds of 9-1. Next on the bookies' ranking is the South Korean poet Ko Un, who has been tipped for the prize before, at 10/1.

In eight and ninth positions respectively are Assia Djebar, the Algerian novelist and film-maker, and the US novelist Thomas Pynchon, whose latest book, Bleeding Edge, came out last month. Both are quoted at 12-1.

In 10th place is the Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong'o, who has written novels, plays and short stories in English and the Bantu language of Gikuyu. He is quoted at odds of 12-1.

Contributor

Liz Bury

The GuardianTramp

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