Mario Vargas Llosa And The Nobel Prize: Why Are Literary Prizes So Prized?

10/11/2010 04:42 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Adam Gopnik The New Yorker

What this year's prize really shows is that prizes, like people, have a DNA of their own. The Nobel Prize in Literature would have been more illuminatingly named not after Dynamite Alfred but after his close friend, greatest hero, and ideal writer, Victor Hugo, with whom he shared time in Paris and the friendship of the great salon-keeper Juliette Adam-Lamber. (Hugo once called Nobel the "richest vagabond in Europe," with an eye to his wanderings.)

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