Surprise! Ladbrokes has spoken, yet again: Ngugi wa Thiong’o the new favorite


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There’s no point in sleeping during Nobel week.  It’s a volatile year.  Ngugi wa Thiong’o has climbed from having a 1 percent chance of winning to a top spot — all in a couple of days.

In any case, this is a disaster for Ladbroke’s, which booked the odds at 75:1:

But it wasn’t long before those odds changed radically. It was, says [Ladbroke’s David] Williams, a “staggering collapse.” Bettors gambled more heavily on Thiong’o than they had at any other time in the history of Nobel betting. Before long, he had pushed  Thomas Transtromer out of the top position.

It also suggests some leaks, and opportunists, at the Swedish Academy. The Ladbrokes site is down for “scheduled maintenance” during Nobel week.

Other shifts: American novelist Cormac McCarthy is now in second place at 6-1, with Japanese writer Haruki Marukami coming in third position at 7-1. Last week’s favorite, the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, is now ranked fourth in the Ladbroke’s odds with a 9-1 chance of winning the award.

Who is the Kenyan mystery man?  The Nobel poetry drought continues — Ngugi wa Thiong’o is a novelist.  And also, “a post-colonial theorist and social activist.” He is currently the Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine.

He was born in 1938 into a large peasant family.  He was educated in Kenya, Uganda, and Britain’s University of Leeds.

He launched his writing career in English, but following his arrest and imprisonment without charge at the Kamiti Maximum Security Prison in Kenya after the performance of his critical play, Ngaahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When I Want) in 1977. In prison also, he decided to switch to his mother tongue, Gikuyu.

He wrote his novel Caitani Mutharabaini (The Devil on the Cross) on toilet paper while in prison.  He also wrote a childhood memoir Dreams in a Time of War and a satire Wizard of the Crow (Murogi wa Kagogo), which some consider his masterpiece.
Seven-year-old profile at Today@UCI here:
Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o describes in his book, Decolonising the Mind, what happened to students caught speaking their native Gikuyu at school: “The culprit was given corporal punishment – three to five strokes of the cane on bare buttocks – or was made to carry a metal plate around the neck with inscriptions such as ‘I Am Stupid’ or ‘I Am a Donkey.’”

Given the dramatic reshuffling of odds this year, I wonder … could someone placing bets  just to deflect attention from the real winner, or is that too Machiavellian?

PostscriptThe Literary Saloon doesn’t think it’s too Machiavellian at all.  And they’re plonking for UCI’s Ngugi wa Thiong’o.

AddendumA writer may bag the peace prize, too.  The imprisoned Liu Xiaobo would be the first Chinese citizen to get the peace prize.

One Response to “Surprise! Ladbrokes has spoken, yet again: Ngugi wa Thiong’o the new favorite”

  1. World Wide News Flash Says:

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