Old favorites top Nobel literature prize guess-list

Wed Oct 1, 2008 3:48pm EDT
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By Adam Cox and Johan Sennero

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Perennial favorites, from American novelist Philip Roth to Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, top the list of hopefuls for this year's Nobel Prize in literature.

British betting agency Ladbrokes gives Italian scholar and journalist Claudio Magris the edge with 3-1 odds, followed by Israel's Amos Oz and American author Joyce Carol Oates.

Bottom of the Ladbrokes list with odds of 150-1 is singer-lyricist Bob Dylan.

But such secrecy shrouds the Nobel committee's deliberations over literature's most illustrious yearly prize that even the date of the award is kept hush-hush until news of a winner is close at hand.

Dates for the other Nobel prizes, for achievement in the sciences, economics and peace, are set well in advance with the first -- for physiology or medicine -- due on October 6.

Bookmakers are not the only ones to play oracle about the Nobels, which dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel established in his will and which were first handed out in 1901. Publishers and writers themselves often weigh in.

American novelist Michael Chabon lists writers he would like to see win, led by Ursula K. Leguin and including Michael Ondaatje, Cormac McCarthy, J.G. Ballard and Roth.

"Every year, one crosses one's fingers for Philip Roth," he told Reuters by email.   Continued...

<p>Italian writer Claudio Magris poses in Trieste in this November 5, 2005 file photo. REUTERS/Damjan Balbi</p>