A Nobel Sampler

Nine stories by laureates in literature, including Ernest Hemingway, Toni Morrison, Saul Bellow, and V.S. Naipaul.
9 stories

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.''"

Living on $1,000 a Year in Paris

Feb 1922
From the Web

A Jewish Writer in America

This article, originally given as a talk in 1988, was finally published in 2011.

From the Web

Distant Relations

Sep 2009
From the Web

A Beneficiary

May 2007
From the Web

On Being a Writer

From the Web

Flight from Byzantium

Oct 1985
From the Web

An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish

Jan 1937
From the Web

Clinton as the First Black President

Thanks to the papers, we know what the columnists think. Thanks to round-the-clock cable, we know what the ex-prosecutors, the right-wing blondes, the teletropic law professors, and the disgraced political consultants think. Thanks to the polls, we know what “the American people” think. But what about the experts on human folly?

Oct 1998
From the Web


A short story by the 2012 Nobel laureate in literature.

Aug 2012