Haruki Murakami emerges as Nobel prize for literature favourite

Japanese writer long tipped for Nobel recognition poised to see off rivals including Joyce Carol Oates and Ko Un, say bookies

After years of hovering in the wings, this could be Haruki Murakami's year to clinch the Nobel prize for literature – at least if you go by the odds offered by Ladbrokes on the Japanese author, who is 3-1 favourite.

Other favoured contenders include US author Joyce Carol Oates (6-1), Hungarian writer Peter Nádas (7-1), South Korean poet Ko Un (10-1), and Alice Munro, the short story writer from Canada (12-1).

Piecing together the odds is a question of informed guesswork, since the nominations and cogitations of the members of the Nobel Committee for Literature are kept under wraps by the Swedish Academy, which only reveals the conversations of the judicial huddle 50 years after the decision is made.

Sixth favourite is Syrian poet Adonis, 14-1, who was tipped to win in 2011 following the Arab spring uprisings but lost out to another poet, Sweden's Tomas Tranströmer, the second favourite.

Murakami has been considered a frontrunner for the past 10 years. His emergence as favourite this time round comes as his latest novel – the title of which translates as Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage – is being translated into English ahead of publication in 2014.

The Nobel prize for literature is awarded each October, in accordance with the wishes written in Alfred Nobel's will, to "the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction". The precise date is kept vague until the last minute; on Wednesday, the Nobel website said only that it was a minimum of 29 days off. The 2013 prize is worth 8m Swedish kronor (£780,000).

Though the Nobel administration prides itself on being inscrutable, it has experimented with a little light leaking. In May, it tantalisingly tweeted: "5 candidates have been selected for 2013 #NobelPrize in #Literature according to Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy," provoking a flurry of speculation as to whether this could be America's year, with Philip Roth and Don DeLillo floated as possible recipients.

Ladbrokes is running with Murakami, but the firm has got it wrong before. In 2011, a run of bets prompted it to slash odds on Bob Dylan from 100-1 to 10-1 24 hours preceding the announcement of the winner. That year, Adonis was a 6-1 favourite, followed by Murakami (8-1) and the eventual winner, Tranströmer (10-1).

Last year, the prize went to Mo Yan, who became the first Chinese writer to win it, at odds of 9-1. Since 1901, a total of 109 individuals have won the Noble prize for literature, 12 of them women.


Liz Bury

The GuardianTramp

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