• Nobel Prize Winners Before 2000

      Other Literary Award Winners

      Nobel Prize FAQ

      • Founded by Swedish multi-millionaire Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite
      • He had the idea for it in 1888 when he read his own obituary in a French newspaper. The headline of the article read "The Merchant of Death is Dead." He didn’t want this to be his legacy (he had not only invented dynamite, but also owned a weapons factory).
      • First awarded in 1901, five years after Nobel died in 1896
      • His will left 94% of his fortune (31 million Swedish krona, which is the equivalent of roughly $186 million US today) to establish the prizes
      • Prize money: 8 million Swedish krona (approximately $1.25 million Canadian)
      • The most prestigious literary award out there, both because of the prize money and because of how old it is
      • Awarded annually in October; more of a “lifetime achievement” award rather than a “best book of the year” one
      • Ties have occurred 4 times
      • No prizes were awarded in 1914 and 1918 (due to the start and end of WWI), 1935, 1940-43 (during WWII, though interestingly it was awarded in 1939 and 1944-45, and the war was on at those times)
      • It has been declined twice. In 1958 Boris Pasternak was forced to decline by the Soviet government, and in 1964 by French writer Jean-Paul Sartre.

      Nobel Winners in the Collection, 2000-Present

      Kazuo Ishiguro

      2017 – Kazuo Ishiguro - United Kingdom

      A British novelist who was born in Japan, but moved to the UK when he was 5.
      Bob Dylan

      2016 – Bob Dylan - United States

      A controversial pick, to say the least, since he is primarily a musician.
      Svetlana Alexievich

      2015 – Svetlana Alexievich - Belarus

      Born in the Ukraine, but lives in Belarus, and writes in Russian. Writes non-fiction and investigative journalism.
      Patrick Modiano

      2014 – Patrick Modiano - France

      First native-born French author to win in almost thirty years. He writes novels.
      Alice Munro

      2013 – Alice Munro - Canada

      First Canadian to win. She almost exclusively writes short stories, many of which are set in Ontario. Fun fact: she also owns the famous Munro's Books in Victoria!
      Mo Yan

      2012 – Mo Yan - China

      Second Chinese person to win, his real name is Guan Moye. He writes novels and short stories. Time magazine once called him "one of the most famous, oft-banned, and widely-pirated of all Chinese writers." His most famous work is the novel Red Sorghum.
      Tomas Tranströmer

      2011 – Tomas Tranströmer - Sweden

      Eighth Swede to win, he is best known for his poetry, which often dealt with religious themes.
      Mario Vargas Llosa

      2010 – Mario Vargas Llosa - Peru

      First Peruvian to win. He has written novels and essays, and is one of many Nobel Literature Prize winners to be writers as well as politicians.
      Herta Müller

      2009 – Herta Müller - Germany

      Eighth German to win. She was actually born in Romania, but is a native German speaker. She writes novels, poetry, and essays. Many of her novels take place in Communist Romania, and are told from the point of view of the minority German population.
      JMG Le Clézio

      2008 – JMG (Jean-Marie Gustave) Le Clézio - Mauritius

      First to win from Mauritius. Writes in French. He has written a variety novels, essays, short stories, and travelogues.
      Doris Lessing

      2007 – Doris Lessing - United Kingdom

      Ninth to win from the UK. She wrote novels, poetry, librettos (scripts for things like musicals/operas), biographies, and short stories.
      Orhan Pamuk

      2006 – Orhan Pamuk - Turkey

      First to win from Turkey. He mostly writes novels, though he has also written scripts and non-fiction.
      Harold Pinter

      2005 – Harold Pinter - United Kingdom

      Eighth to win from UK. Best known for his plays and film scripts.
      Elfriede Jelinek

      2004 – Elfriede Jelinek - Austria

      First to win from Austria who wasn't born in Austria-Hungary. She mostly writes plays and novels.
      JM Coetzee

      2003 – JM (John Maxwell) Coetzee - South Africa
      South Africa

      Second to win from South Africa. He writes novels and essays.
      Imre Kertész

      2002 – Imre Kertész - Hungary

      First to win from Hungary who wasn't born in Austria-Hungary. Best known for his pseudo-autobiographical novels.
      VS Naipaul

      2001 – VS (Vidiadhar Surajprasad) Naipaul - Trinidad & Tobago
      Trinidad & Tobago

      First to win from Trinidad & Tobago. Is of East Indian descent, and writes in English. Best known for his novels and travelogues, the former of which range from being comedic to bleak.
      Gao Xingjian

      2000 – Gao Xingjian - China

      First to win from China, though he moved to France two years before he won the award. He mostly writes novels and plays.