The Swedish Academy announced today that Chinese author Mo Yan is the 2012 Nobel Laureate in Literature. Today we bring you stories by some of the other writers who've won the prize.
"I do not really know how I became a writer," 2001 laureate V.S. Naipaul reflected in a 1987 essay in the New York Review of Books. Naipaul continued, "It is mysterious, for instance, that the ambition should have come first—the wish to be a writer, to have that distinction, that fame—and that this ambition should have come long before I could think of anything to write about."
The 2006 winner, Orhan Pamuk, published "Distant Relations" in a 2009 New Yorker. The story is narrated by a Turkish man recounting his younger days, when he was happily engaged: "The series of events and coincidences that would change my entire life began on April 27, 1975, when Sibel happened to spot a purse designed by the famous Jenny Colon in a shopwindow as we were walking along Valikonagi Avenue, enjoying the cool spring evening. Our formal engagement was not far off; we were tipsy and in high spirits."
In 2007, the 1991 winner Nadine Gordimer published "A Beneficiary," also in The New Yorker. It follows an estranged daughter in the wake of her mother's death. Its opening instructs: "Caches of old papers are like graves; you shouldn’t open them," Gordimer wrote. "Her mother had been cremated. There was no marble stone incised 'Laila de Morne, born, died, actress.''"