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Bets on Mideast Leaders, European Writers for Nobel Prizes

October 6, 1994

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ With Israeli and PLO leaders widely favored to win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, speculation is growing about the literature winner in the award announcements that begin Monday.

″It should be time for a European author,″ said Jan Eklund, literature critic at the daily Dagens Nyheter.

The 1994 Nobel prizes will be announced starting next week in Stockholm, beginning with medicine or physiology on Monday, economics on Tuesday, and chemistry and economics on Wednesday.

There has been little debate about the Peace Prize, to be announced Oct. 14 in Oslo, Norway. Most bets are on the men involved in the Mideast peace process: either Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, or both with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin and PLO negotiator Abu Mazzen.

Debate is more intense about the literature prize, usually announced on a Thursday in October with just a few days’ notice. Each prize this year is worth 7 million kroner, or about $930,000.

Nobel nominees never are announced beforehand, but every year on that certain Thursday, many of the world’s great writers stay near their phones hoping for the Swedish Academy’s call.

The names mentioned this year include Estonian novelist Jaan Kross, Belgian poet-playwright Hugo Claes, Hungarian author Gyorgy Konrad, Irish poet Seamus Heaney and two Portuguese novelists, Jose Saramago and Antonio Lobo Antunes.

The novelist Kenzaburo Oe from Japan has also been mentioned, as well as a Syrian-born Lebanese poet who writes under the pen name Adonis. Some believe a long shot is the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska.

One critic, Gabi Gleichmann of the Swedish daily Expressen, said that with 10 or so top candidates every year, the Swedish Academy sometimes uses other criteria to select the winner, including nationality and age.

South African novelist Nadine Gordimer won in 1991, Caribbean writer Derek Walcott in 1992 and American author Toni Morrison last year.

Anders Paulrud, literature critic at the Stockholm daily Aftonbladet, said he thought the time had come for Kross - the Estonian - to be honored.

″He is in his 70s and has been translated into several languages. He writes historical novels, he used to criticize the Soviet regime, and he has spent time in a prison camp,″ he said.

Paulrud noted that English was the tongue of the last three writers and that it may be time to honor another language. He also said enough time has passed since the Soviet collapse to award a writer from the former Soviet Union.

″The academy does not want the (literature) prize linked to politics. They often wait until the situation is not so tense anymore, as they did with South Africa,″ Paulrud said.

The science winners are far tougher to predict. Prizes in the past have gone mostly to people laboring on basic research, rather than those making high-profile breakthroughs.

The prizes will be awarded on Dec. 10 in Stockholm, except for the peace prize, which is handed over in a ceremony the same day in Oslo, Norway, as specified in the will of industrialist Alfred Nobel, who endowed the prizes.

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