Women and Nobel Prize in Literature: 5 Authors You Should Know
1. Selma Lagerlöf: the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature
In 1909, Selma Legarlöf was the first woman to win the greatest award of Letters, in a choice shrouded in controversy, due to her avant-garde writing style for the time. At the end of the 19th century, Swedish literature was dominated by naturalistic realism. Legarlöf's work is populated by gnomes, goblins, and ghosts, who recreate the atmosphere of the country's enchanting stories and popular legends.
Among the most famous books by the author, stand out The Story of Gösta Berling (1891), The Invisible Links (1894), The Treasure (1904), and The Wonderful Adventures of Nils (1906-1907), which was adopted in all Swedish schools and translated into more than 50 languages. The writer's work also includes The Emperor of Portugallia (1914). The book tells the story of a poor Swedish peasant who goes crazy and fantasizes that his daughter is Empress of Portugalia, a region where the inhabitants eat oranges and grapes, drink Port wine and speak Portuguese.
2. Toni Morrison: the voice of the african american woman
In 1993, history was made again: the first black woman won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Toni Morrison thus raised the voice of the African American woman to the highest level of Literature.
When receiving the Nobel, the author stated that “writing as a black woman is not starting from a superficial or empty place, but from a fertile place. It does not limit the imagination, expands it”. The defense of racial and gender equality is, moreover, very evident in her books, with strong African American women taking on a central role.
Toni published his first novel, The Bluest Eye (1970), at the age of 39. At the time, divorced, working as a publisher, and with two dependent young children, she would get up at dawn to be able to write. Her work reflects all of these experiences. In addition to novels, she published essays, children's books, poetry, and even librettos for opera. Beloved (1987), one of her most successful books, was adapted for the cinema, in a film starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover.
3. Svetlana Alexijevich: literature that reveals the reality
Svetlana Alexijevich is the third name to retain. Writer and journalist, she developed unique writing. In a new genre of non-fiction, she combines the best narrative qualities of the Russian-language literary tradition with documentary prose. She was distinguished by the Swedish Academy in 2015.
The Belarusian author, born in Ukraine, started writing poems and articles for school newspapers from an early age. Reality-based writing took a center stage in her career and led her to study journalism at the University of Minsk. In 1985, she definitively launched herself into literature with the publication of the book The Unwomanly Face of War, in which she addresses the theme of Russian women who participated in the Second World War. Since then, Alexijevich's literary universe has revealed, with unique expertise, the history of Soviet and post-Soviet women and men.
Last Witnesses (1985), Boys in Zinc (1991), Enchanted with Death (1993), Voices from Chernobyl (1997), and Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets (2013) complete her work. Some of these books have been adapted for theater plays and documentaries.
4. Olga Tokarczuk: thinking the world through prose
Feminist, ecologist, and animal advocate, Olga Tokarczuk uses prose to think - and make think - the world of today. The skill with which she does this earned her, in 2018, the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Tokarczuk graduated in Psychology in the 1980s and still practiced clinical activity, but the thirst for freedom eventually led her to write. She started writing during one of her many trips. The City in Mirrors (1989), a collection of poems, was her first book. Since then, she has not stopped traveling and writing. In 1996, she published her first major success, Primeval and Other Times, where she addresses Poland's recent history and begins to experiment with a free literary style, comprised of interconnected micro-stories. Flights (2007) is the synthesis of the restless spirit and has become her greatest success worldwide. Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead (2009), with a style between the police and the black comedy, affirms her political and social convictions.
Her work, which includes also some incursions in children's literature, with The Lost Soul (2017) and tales, with Bizarre Stories (2018), is translated into more than 30 languages.
5. Louise Glück: the search for clarity in austere poetry
Finally, we could not fail to highlight the most recent winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Louise Glück is the author of a poetic work with an enormous emotional charge, distinguished by the austere beauty that makes it unmistakable.
She was only 25 years old when she published her first collection of poems, Firstborn (1968), and was quickly identified as one of the most promising authors of contemporary American poetry. Confirming expectations, before being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, Glück received the Pulitzer, the National Book Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Times Book, and the Wallace Stevens from the American Poets Academy.
The author's poetry mirrors her personal experiences, from the fight against anorexia to the period when she did psychoanalysis, but also the search for universal clarity, inspired by classic myths and motives. The Wild Iris (1992), Proofs & Theories (1994), Averno (2006), A Village Life (2009), Poems: 1962–2012 (2012), and Faithful and Virtuous Night (2014) are some of his most celebrated books.