Thursday, October 11, 2007

Doris Lessing Wins Nobel for Literature!

I'm thrilled. The Golden Notebook was crucial to my development as a woman and a writer. (And I love that she was out shopping when the news was announced.)

October 11, 2007
Doris Lessing Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) -- English writer Doris Lessing, who ended her formal schooling at age 13 and went on to write novels that explored relationships between the genders and races, won the 2007 Nobel Prize in literature on Thursday.

Lessing, who turns 88 in just over a week, was born to British parents who were living in what is now Iran. The family later moved to what is now Zimbabwe, where she largely grew up.

She made her debut with ''The Grass Is Singing'' in 1950. Her other works include the semiautobiographical ''Children Of Violence'' series, largely set in Africa, that include the works.

Lessing's agent, Jonathan Clowes, said Lessing was out shopping.

''We are absolutely delighted and it's very well deserved,'' he said, adding she may not yet know that she had won the prize.

Her breakthrough was the 1962 ''Golden Notebook,'' the Swedish Academy said.

''The burgeoning feminist movement saw it as a pioneering work and it belongs to the handful of books that inform the 20th century view of the male-female relationship,'' the academy said in its citation announcing the prize.

Other important novels of Lessing's include ''The Summer Before Dark'' in 1973 and ''The Fifth Child'' in 1988.

Lessing is the second British writer to win the prize in three years. In 2005, Harold Pinter received the award. Last year, the academy gave the prize to Turkey's Orhan Pamuk.

A seasoned traveler of the world, Lessing has known many homes from Persia to Zimbabwe to South Africa and London.

''When you look at my life, you can go back to the late 1930s,'' she told The Associated Press in an interview last year ago. ''What I saw was, first of all, Hitler, he was going to live forever. Mussolini was in for 10,000 years. You had the Soviet Union, which was, by definition, going to last forever. There was the British empire -- nobody imagined it could come to an end. So why should one believe in any kind of permanence?''

Lessing's family moved to a farm in southern Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe, in 1925, an experience she described in the first part of her autobiography ''Under My Skin'' that was released in 1944.

Because of her criticism of the South African regime and its apartheid system, she was prohibited from entering the country between 1956 and 1995. Lessing, who was a member of the British Communist Party in the 1950s, had been active in campaigning against nuclear weapons.

The literature award was the fourth of this year's Nobel Prizes to be announced and one of the most hotly anticipated given the sheer amount of guessing it generated in the weeks leading up to award.

On Wednesday, Gerhard Ertl of Germany won the 2007 Nobel Prize in chemistry for studies of chemical reactions on solid surfaces, which are key to understanding such questions as why the ozone layer is thinning.

Tuesday, France's Albert Fert and German Peter Gruenberg won the physics award for discovering a phenomenon that lets computers and digital music players store reams of data on ever-shrinking hard disks.

Americans Mario R. Capecchi and Oliver Smithies, and Briton Sir Martin J. Evans, won the 2007 Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday for groundbreaking discoveries that led to a powerful technique for manipulating mouse genes.

Prizes for peace and economics will be announced through Oct. 15.

The awards -- each worth $1.5 million -- will be handed out by Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf at a ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10.


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