An American Didn't Win the Nobel Prize? Big Surprise

by Staff

A week after Horace Engdahl, the permanent secretary for the Swedish Academy and top jury member for the Nobel Prize, criticized American writers in an interview with the Associated Press (AP), the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature was announced. Not surprisingly, it isn't an American. French novelist Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio takes literature's highest honor this year for his "poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy," the prize committee said in a statement.

Sally Charette

Sally Charette of Acton, California, travels to Andrew's Diner in North Hollywood, sitting at the same table every day to work on her novel, along with essays and articles.

David Van Horsen

David Van Horsen of Monrovia, California, retreats to an outbuilding his family calls "the shed" to write essays and short stories. "The isolation of this space is integral," says Van Horsen. "Because I'm married, with twins, it can be hard to find a place to get the writing down. This is pretty much the darkest and dankest hole on the property. Nobody wants to be here. So it is perfect for uninterrupted thought."

Carmen Iriondo

Poet Carmen Iriondo of Buenos Aires, Argentina, chose her writing space, originally her home's dining room, "for its silence and view: plants and trees in spite of its urban location."

"The painting behind me is the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires by Romulo Macció, a known artist and a personal friend," says Iriondo. "As an ex–ballet dancer, that theatre represents for me a mix of creation, beauty, difficulty, mischief, sweat, and well being, and brings me good memories of my childhood."

Debbie Zeitman

Fiction writer and essayist Debbie Zeitman, who also has a few screenplays in the works, writes in her bedroom in Venice, California. She uses a lap desk to hold her laptop and keeps a writing pad close at hand.

For Zeitman, writing isn’t always a solitary pursuit. Before taking this photo, she left her workspace for a moment and her industrious Chihuahua, Speck, stepped in. "I am still awaiting his critique," she says.

Barbara Torode

Poet Barbara Torode converted a small bedroom in her Philadelphia home into a writing den, where she works surrounded by favorite books and pieces of advice tacked to the walls and shelves. "There is a dark shade on the window to kill screen reflections and task lighting so the room can be dimmed," Torode says of the deliberate design of her space. "I'm in easy commuting distance to my kitchen—no wasted time going and coming for meals," Torode adds, noting that she can also escape to her garden "for necessary eye-resting breaks, exercise, and meditation."

Jenifer Joy Madden

Nonfiction writer Jenifer Joy Madden (left) and fiction writer Caron Martinez (right), both of Vienna, Virginia, enjoy a DIY retreat, complete with meals cooked by their teenage sons, at Madden's home-away-from-home on Hutchinson Island, Florida. "The screened-in porch allows uninterrupted comfort," says Madden of her writing spot overlooking the Indian River. "The heavenly June breeze created a lovely background noise of lapping water and rustling palms."


Amy Groshek

Poet Amy Groshek works at the dining room table of her one-bedroom apartment in Madison, Wisconsin. She uses the typewriter for drafting her poems, avoiding the potential distractions of the computer during early stages of writing.

"The scraps of paper on the wall are favorite poems that I have memorized or am in the process of memorizing," Groshek says.


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