I’m sitting here wondering if Amos Oz or Ngugi wa Thiongo will win the Nobel prize for literature, due to be announced on Thursday. A spokesman on the prize panel this week informed the world that Europe remains the centre of the literary world, dismissing writers based in the United States. “The US is too isolated, too insular. They don’t translate enough and don’t really participate in the big dialogue of literature… That ignorance is restraining.”
What?! Like many others, I was staggered by this nonsense. I have grown up loving the diversity and brilliance and courage of American writers, from Flannery O’Connor to William Faulkner, Richard Ford to Raymond Carver, Louise Erdrich to Toni Morrison to Elizabeth Bishop, Djuna Barnes to Tennessee Williams to Paul Bowles, James Baldwin to Denis Johnson. Shirley Hazzard. Emily Dickenson. Adrienne Rich. Robert Lowell. And I could go on for another six or seven entries.
I do feel no major publishing house in Europe, the UK or the US invests enough in translation and we are missing out on many Kafkas and Tolstoys. But that is another issue.
Boo sucks then to the Nobel prize committee and I am drinking a puzzling blend of organic cranberry and kiwi fruit. A gift from my housemate. It tastes as if it needs something, and I don’t mean vodka! Some cloudy apple or fresh lime juice… and I am spooning up honey dripping off a delectable honeycomb from a nearby farm, sent to me in a large beehive-shaped jar. Hedonism in sobriety.
A mangled laptop has arrived from S in Wales. The South African customs port authority has taken it apart even though it is an old secondhand computer. I wonder if they were looking for kiddie porn or just wanted to throw it around like a football for a while. Now I shall have to battle with them for the next few months because the monitor has been almost wrenched away from the keyboard. Well, I suppose it is the thought of the sender that counts.
The kitchen is full of wild African bees who have detected the scent of honey. I shall have to stay out of the kitchen until the piercing whine fades. How fondly I recall the gentle buzzing golden bees of English country gardens! These bees are busily evolving into hornets with world domination tendencies. So fierce and beautiful and dangerous I wish I could video tham doing mad kamikaze figures-of-eight over the closed honey jar. Darth Vaders with glittering wings and pointy arses. How can we tell the dancer from the dance?