Last week, Hilary Mantel won the Man Booker Prize for her novel "Wolf Hall". The surprise came in that Mantel was the expected win. Bookies and fans claimed her to be the favorite and indeed she won.
That Thursday, Herta Müller won the Nobel Prize in Literature. This Romanian-born German writer was received with a lot of criticism in the U.S. immediately, as many began to cry foul, claiming that the Nobels were far too Europe-centric. Müller, virtually unknown in the U.S. until her ascension as Nobel laureate, was seen as an obscure, bad pick by many, while others insisted that the problem was with the U.S. for not recognizing one of Germany's top authors, especially one who has been translated into English (nice list here). It's an interesting debate but is fairly pointless. Instead, let's congratulate Müller on her win and get reading her works.
Meanwhile, on U.S. soil, the National Book Award Finalists have been revealed. The picks emerge from over a thousand possibilities and will probably pinpoint a truly good book (going based on previous years' winners). Here is a prize with little controversy: there's not much in the finalist lists to complain about. In addition to the finalists, Gore Vidal and Dave Eggers received the awards for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and The Literarian Award, respectively.