Bookish Betting Begins on the Nobel Prize in Literature

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We're already gearing up for the year's big literary/gambling hybrid: The 2012 Nobel Prize in literature! Laureates are chosen and announced in early October, with the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony following in Stockholm on December 10. The Guardian's Allison Flood writes today that Bob Dylan's stock is up. In fact, he's our number two contender: "A flurry of £100 bets on Bob Dylan has seen the singer-songwriter leapfrog over the likes of Philip Roth and Cormac McCarthy to become the second favourite to win the Nobel prize for literature this autumn." Only Haruki Murakami is ranked above, at 7/1, according to Ladbrokes, your soup-to-nuts betting destination

In all this excitement, however, it's worth remembering that last year Dylan was also heavily favored, oddswise if not practically speaking, to win (he did not), and that not even those at Ladbrokes think he's a serious contender this year any more than he was previously. People are betting on him, perhaps, because it's fun, because they recognize his name, because it's a bet on Bob Dylan. Note that this is all speculative anyway, as the statutes of the Nobel Foundation "restrict disclosure of information about the nominations, whether publicly or privately, for 50 years." Flood writes, though, that "Ladbrokes believes it is highly unlikely the singer will win the world's most prestigious prize for literature," and cites MA Orthofer, the founder of international literature website the Complete Review, as having blogged, "If you know anyone who has actually generously donated money to Ladbrokes by 'betting' on him please try to get them professional help, either from a psychiatrist or an accountant."

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If you want to be serious, go with some of the other more likely actual contenders, like Ladbrokes' third- and fourth-favorited Mo Yan and Cees Nooteboom (both 12/1). Further down on the list, there's Amos Oz and Tom Stoppard (16/1), Alice Munro and Thomas Pynchon (20/1), Umberto Eco (25/1), Don DeLillo, Joyce Carol Oates, and E.L. Doctorow (33/1), Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan, and Maya Angelou (50/1), Ursula Le Guin, Salman Rushdie, Milan Kundera, and Ben Okri (66/1), Jonathan Franzen (100/1), and numerous others. Last on the list, at 500/1 odds, is our dark (Fifty Shades dark) horse: E.L. James. Murakami "remains on course to stay favourite throughout the betting heat, even if the money continues to pour in for Dylan," per The Guardian. For some varying odds, try Nicerodds, another British-based site. But take it all with a grain of salt: Gossip over a shortlist has barely even gotten started yet!

Last year, despite certain predictions, the winner was second-favorite Tomas Tranströmer (pictured above at the 2011 award ceremony) because, per the Nobel Foundation, "through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality." Consider that the Nobel standard while placing your wagers. And stay tuned, this is just the beginning.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.