Books: Prague's Indomitable Spirit

A remarkable, obscure Czech poet wins the Nobel Prize

How did last week's announcement of the Nobel Prize strike some of the celebrated writers who might like to win it themselves? Nobody knows, of course, but perhaps there was an outcry of bewildered protests like this:

"Who?" shouts Norman Mailer (and probably Graham Greene as well).

"Chi?" wonders Alberto Moravia (and perhaps Italo Calvino).

"Wer?" grumbles Gunter Grass (and possibly Peter Handke).

"iQuien?" inquires Jorge Luis Borges (and maybe Carlos Fuentes).

Some such chorus of international wonderment would have been quite understandable, for once again the Swedish Academy had awarded the world's most prestigious literary prize (now...

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