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The Sunday Salon.com 
Once again, I'm going to throw a Nobel prize-winning author's work at the wall and move on to something else.  This year I've been making a concerted effort to read Nobel winners, especially since so many of them give me the opportunity to expand my knowledge of authors from other countries.  Unfortunately, I've been disappointed by many of my choices.  

I was unable to finish Orhan Pamuk's  My Name is Red, Jose Saramago's Baltasar and Blimunda and, as of today, Elfriede Jelinek's  The Piano Teacher.  I finished, but despised, V.S. Naipaul's In a Free State.  Only Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea has made a positive impression.  What's up with that?  I'm planning to read a few more Nobel winners this year:  Halldor Laxness, Imre Kertész, and Nadine Gordimer, and I'm hoping for a more enjoyable experience.  But I have to say I rushed rather headlong into reading the Nobels, assuming that anyone who has garnered such international acclaim would be worth reading.  And it's been disappointing.  I

have enjoyed the Booker, Orange and Whitbread/Costa winners much, much more.  

How about you?  Do you read prizewinners?  What's your favorite prize?

My review of The Piano Teacher is hardly worth its own blog post ...
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The Piano Teacher
Elfriede Jelinek
280 pages

This review will be very, very short, because I really disliked this book and was unable to finish it. Erika Korhut is a young woman who, having failed in pursuit of a career as a concert pianist, now teaches piano in Vienna. She lives with her domineering mother who controls every aspect of Erika's life. Erika has no friends, and no romantic relationships, and her mother ensures it stays that way. At the time I abandoned this book, Erika was already engaged in self-destructive behavior, which was about to continue through a relationship with one of her students. But I found the characters lacked depth and were completely dispicable. I didn't care what happened to Erika and was really disappointed by this work from a Nobel prize-winning author.


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Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
mrstreme
Aug. 17th, 2008 12:20 pm (UTC)
I have had better luck with Orange, Booker and some Pulitzers. While I have a lot of respect for Nobel winners, I am not sure if that literary canon is exactly MY literary canon.

Better luck with your next selection!
laura0218
Aug. 17th, 2008 05:42 pm (UTC)
I am not sure if that literary canon is exactly MY literary canon.

That's a great way to put it, Jill! I've enjoyed the other prizes more, too.
ext_95884
Aug. 17th, 2008 01:54 pm (UTC)
Gautami's comments
I can't read Naipal and Hemingway. I tried. As for others, Marquez and Steinbeck are very readable.

Do check out my Sunday Salon posts :D

SS 1: Review of The Dark Child (http://readingandmorereading.blogspot.com/2008/08/dark-child-by-camara-laye.html)

SS 2: Musings about books (http://readingandmorereading.blogspot.com/2008/08/sunday-salon-musing-from-vacation.html)
literaryfeline
Aug. 17th, 2008 02:05 pm (UTC)
The closest I ever came to reading an award winning book because it was an award winning book was for the New York Notable Fiction Challenge last year--and those weren't really award winners technically. Not all of them anyway. There's nothing wrong with wanting to read them for that reason, of course, just not something I've ever set out to do.

That's too bad that you've run into so many you haven't enjoyed so far. I hope that your luck changes soon!

Have a great week.
ann163125
Aug. 17th, 2008 02:23 pm (UTC)
I haven't tried the Nobel winners so I can't comment, but I have had some success with the Pulitzer winners - definitely better than the Booker, I think. You might want to try those instead and see if it's any more enjoyable.
laura0218
Aug. 17th, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC)
Ann, I have been reading Pulitzers, Bookers, and Oranges and have enjoyed much of what I've read. I don't expect any prize to be a 100% fit with my taste but have certainly been surprised by the Nobels.
raidergirl3
Aug. 17th, 2008 02:35 pm (UTC)
I agree with you on Nobel winners, I don't think they are very readable!
I really can't read Coetzee, and I tried Xingjian's Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather but it did nothing for me.

However, I've read Pamuk's nonfiction and I have enjoyed it, especially Istanbul. Part of that was I had been there, but I liked his style for NF anyway.
I'd say go back to the Bookers.
caribousmom
Aug. 17th, 2008 04:30 pm (UTC)
I think you'll enjoy Laxness, Laura. I really did. I also (of course) loved Toni Morrison and John Steinbeck - both Nobel Laureates. But, I have yet to read the ones you didn't like...so can't comment on those. I agree that the Orange and Costa award winners...as well as Bookers and for the most part the Pulitzers are mostly wonderful. My understanding is that Gordimer is fantastic...and I have a couple of her books waiting in the wings.
caribousmom
Aug. 17th, 2008 04:32 pm (UTC)
I should add...Coetzee is an author I have read quite a bit and I have rated his books well, although I must add that his work is not EASY to read. And perhaps that is part of what makes the Nobels unusual...they are highly literary to the point that they are often difficult reads. I don't always like to work that hard when I read...and I don't want to have to research every book to understand the background!
laura0218
Aug. 17th, 2008 05:46 pm (UTC)
Yeah maybe that's it Wendy. I have to be in a certain mood to want to work at my reading. Not that I only read EASY books, but these Nobels just might be more than I'm up for.
deb_nance
Aug. 17th, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC)
I am finding that many award winning books are the kind of book that I admire, but that I do not enjoy.

The most enjoyable reads among award winners for me have been the Orange Prize winners.
(Anonymous)
Aug. 17th, 2008 05:24 pm (UTC)
I do belong to a few challenges with prize winners. However, I used books I already had in my TBR list and it wasn't based on the fact that they were prize winners. It was because they looked like they would be good books to read. Personally, I don't think you necessarily should take stock in whether a book has won an award or not, but then I don't think you shouldn't either. How's that for an ambiguous answer? ;)
ext_103821
Aug. 17th, 2008 05:25 pm (UTC)
I do belong to a few challenges with prize winners. However, I used books I already had in my TBR list and it wasn't based on the fact that they were prize winners. It was because they looked like they would be good books to read. Personally, I don't think you necessarily should take stock in whether a book has won an award or not, but then I don't think you shouldn't either. How's that for an ambiguous answer? ;)
laura0218
Aug. 17th, 2008 05:47 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I agree with your ambiguous answer! I think I came to the Nobels with a certain assumption and it's just been proven wrong. That's OK, there are Nobel winners I enjoy (Steinbeck for example) and, like any prize, ones that I don't.
ext_117770
Aug. 17th, 2008 07:12 pm (UTC)
I fully agree
I have to say, I'm not sure I've ever read any Pulitzer Prize winning books. Terrible, really- I'm going to have to pull up the list. Clearly none of them have crossed my path as something I absolutely must read. That said, many Orange and Booker prize books are amongst my favorites, and when I see something interesting that has won one of those prizes it immediately shoots up the TBR list.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )