How to Win the Nobel Prize for Literature

I am happy to bring you here the opening section of my ambitious and as yet unfinished novel called:


I am convinced that deep down every writer worth his or her salt, of whatever genre, nurses the ambition to one day achieve the supreme honor that can be bestowed on the pen-wielder – to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Of course, such a sublime fate is the lot of just the very few among the writer fraternity, but just the dream of one day hearing one’s name announced by the Nobel Committee and donning a fine suit in order to bask in the Nobel limelight, with both the historic honor and the outsize check in hand, is for many writers what keeps them at the typewriter keys or the computer keyboard for the best part of their lives. That the vast majority will never even live to see the fulfillment of their Nobel dream, and that they must continue to eke out a precarious existence from their writing, does not deter them from pursuing their dream. And so they continue relentlessly churning out word after word, sentence after sentence, writer’s block after writer’s block, chapter after chapter, plot after plot, until the book is done and there begins the fevered pursuit after a publisher. And if fortune smiles, and lo’ the book is published and sees the light of day, then the mad scramble begins to market and publicize the precious work until sufficient readers are tempted to purchase it and justify its existence. But even if the book fails to sell and the writer is not rewarded with any royalties, at least he will feel satisfaction and relief that he has justified his existence by making his own modest personal contribution to literary history and the civilized world by enshrining his very own thoughts and feelings between the frail covers of a printed and published volume.

I, however, determined to make the Nobel dream my reality and not to remain satisfied with some unattainable goal. Not for me, I vowed, to descend Nobel-less to my grave. On my gravestone there really would appear the inscription, HERE LIETH JOSEPH P. …., WINNER OF THE 2053 NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE.

To achieve this admirable goal, with its no less admirable golden dollar or euro handshake, I set myself the redoubtable but praiseworthy mission of showing how to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in double quick time, so that, in addition to winning eternal and immortal literary fame, I would also have a good few years left in which to relax and enjoy the considerable fruits of my endeavors, rather than having to invest a lifetime of brain-draining effort before tottering onstage at the ripe old age of 84 or even 92.5 to finally grasp the hallowed prize in trembling hands.

Looking back at it all now from the comforting sagacity of old age, I’m amazed at the sheer audacity, the foolhardiness of setting myself such an impossible challenge at the comparatively tender age of 32, when ripening wisdom should already have replaced the arrogant ignorance of youth. And yet I have to admit with profound admiration that the foolhardy youngster that I was then did, in fact, meet the awesome challenge so successfully that within five years, aged 37, this still youthful figure of a man, still with a full head of ginger-blond hair and a yet toothful mouth, stood proudly poised and posed on the pinnacle of literary fame as the youngest-ever Nobel Laureate. I even still have somewhere an album stuffed with pictures and write-ups of that memorable event, which from time to time I retrieve from the shelf in order to, as it were, relive that supreme moment. Yet, in retrospect, it seems to me that by achieving my dream so swiftly I subsequently lost something of the flavor and excitement of life, condemned to live out my years bereft of any real challenge. I came to realize that I had it all too fast, too young, probably even too immature. And, sadly, even the most beautiful memories fade before the pitiless onslaught of time and age. Nonetheless, there still remains the comforting thought that, when all is said and done, my name will go down in history and in the annals of literature side by side with those of Shakespeare, Tolstoy, … Harry Potter and other giants of world literature and that my collected opus and corpus will enable a host of scholars and students to pore over them and dissect them for years on end and produce highly regarded works of scholarship and doctoral theses that will serve to perpetuate my name and fame throughout the globe..

There was nothing in my youth and childhood to suggest a literary bent or augury of the glory that was to come. Except perhaps for an unusually vivid imagination, perhaps explained by the fact that poverty reigned in our home and that the only way out of the grim reality of everyday existence was to invoke the boundless … of one’s imagination. But my exceptionally poor spelling, ..grammar, and ..vocabulary gave not the least indication of the remarkable facility and command of the English language that would in time be mine. When your parents are unemployed and scraping for a living, and you live on scraps discarded by the better-off and well-fed and often extracted from garbage cans or local dumps, take it from me that no time remains for even the most primitive education and most certainly not for such linguistic refinements as English spelling, grammar, writing, reading and pronunciation. Thus, by the age of fifteen the skinny, scraggy, ragged adolescent that I had become, though gifted with an above-average imagination born of deprivation, was woefully short of the finer points of the English language while, I am ashamed to admit it, possessing a vocabulary rich in the very worst and most depraved elements of that same tongue which enabled me to more than hold my own among my disadvantaged peers and even to earn their respect and admiration. Who knows for how long this kind of existence might have continued and where it might have led me. Almost certainly to criminal elements and dishonest ways, even to the prison cell, for there was nothing and nobody in sight to offer me a way out to the safe haven of cultivated, well-bred and well-heeled society. Being highly illiterate, I was forced to make my way in life mainly by my wits.

About the Author
London-born David Herman came on aliyah in 1966 after graduating from Cambridge University. In the 1960s, he founded the Good Times Publishing Company specializing in publishing newspapers in simplified English, French and Arabic for the Israeli school system. David currenty works as a translator, and is also very active in the field of songwriting and performing under the musical name, David Ben Reuven.