Jag kommer snart att redogöra några intryck av det internationella mottagandet av beskedet att årets Nobelpris i litteratur tilldelats Tomas Tranströmer. De positiva reaktionerna överväger i en mycket hög grad, men självfallet förekommer också kritik. Underligt vore det annars.

De suraste kommentarerna kommer, som vanligt, från USA. Tim Parks i New York Review of Books har tagit årets pris till utgångspunkt för en allmän uppgörelse med Nobelpriset: ”Whats Wrong With the Nobel Prize in Literature?”

Per Wästberg, som också  är Nobelkommitténs ordförande, har skrivit följande svar, som kan vara intresse även för svenska läsare:

May I, as a reader for decades of your journal, give a more factual background to Mr. Tim Parks´ article in your recent issue. This year’s laureate Tomas Tranströmer has been proposed, for years, by, among others, former laureates Joseph Brodsky, Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott. In New York 2000, Susan Sontag told me Tranströmer was the Swede most well known in the US. He is translated into sixty languages, there are cafés named after him in China and Slovenia. And in Sweden we have all read and loved him since we were young.

The Nobel Committee consists of five members out of the rest of the Swedish Academy. By February we get about 220 suggestions from all round the world. By April we have concocted an ”expectancy” list of twenty. By May we get the Academy to approve a short list of five to be read during next four months. No one could get the prize without having been on the list for at least two years. Be sure we read a select group of American, Canadian, Australian writers continuously!

We have of course, Mr. Parks, read even Jelinek’s Greed though it was hard going. And so much else! For my part I try to read one book a day to keep ill health away. We master thirteen languages in the Academy but when we suspect a genius hidden in an unknown language we call on translators and oath-sworn experts to give us generous samples of that writer.

We go for an individuals life’s work regardless of nation, gender, religion. We could, if need be, give it to Portugal or the US five times in a row, or to essayists, historians, children books writers. We do not have a human rights criterion. We award e.g. Orhan Pamuk for his outstanding novels and essays; then the award becomes politically interpreted.

In the committee we are obsessed readers since childhood and so have a rich background to judge from. None of us has a university job, we are all free writers with our own manuscripts to take care of in between.

Per Wästberg, President of the Nobel Committee for Literature, Stockholm.