Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio
After several years of picking prominent writers, the Nobel committee chose a virtually unknown globetrotting Frenchman for the award in 2008. Many were left scrambling for details about this mysterious and prolific author, but
saw a natural choice, as a result of Le Clézio’s “attempts in much of his work to give voice to the non-European ‘other.’” Just before the prize was announced, Horace Engdahl, the head of the Swedish Academy,
U.S. writers of being “too isolated, too insular.” Needless to say, Joyce Carol Oates, Philip Roth, and John Updike—who died a few months later—didn’t rise early for a victory call.