I guess I am a true book nerd, because I get excited when the winner for the Nobel Prize in Literature is announced. Many times I don’t know who it is – and in the age of Google – I have a chance to investigate a new author. Other times, it’s a favourite author – as in the case of Alice Munro in 2013. I had a tremendous sense of pride, partly because she is one of my favourite authors and also because she is a fellow Canadian. And then there was 2016 where you go, huh? Bob Dylan…really?? Admittedly when I heard the news I was a bit perplexed, however, it was not a bad choice (although I was rooting for another favourite Haruki Murakami).
This year the winner is Kazuo Ishiguro. And I do know who he is! His book Never Let Me Go has been on my to read list for a while (and this has moved it up in the queue). I also know him as the author of The Remains of the Day. Now, I haven’t read the book, but I saw the movie. (I know….I know. I did declare my position on book vs. movie here.) This was one of the two movies that I can recall that made me weep like a baby (I am talking ugly crying). The other one was The English Patient (and no, I didn’t read that book either).
So why should we celebrate the Nobel Prize for Literature? It confirms that story telling and words are important. And for literature to be put in on the same level of importance on the national stage, as things such as chemistry, economics, medicine and oh, a little thing called peace…it reinforces the importance of our stories and words.
Every day, and with every news story it feels like the world is falling apart (or so it seems). And sometimes I think some things can seem frivolous – like reading and books. However, books can offer us an escape. Books can inform us, teach us new things, show us opposing views, open new worlds, and help us to empathize. Celebrating words is a way for us to focus on the fact that they are important, and in this age of information overload, a reminder that we need to choose them carefully.