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[Readings]

Prize Fighter

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From the transcript of a telephone interview with Louise Glück conducted by Adam Smith, chief scientific officer of Nobel Media, after she won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature.

louise glück: Hello?

adam smith: Good morning, my name is Adam Smith, calling from nobelprize.org. Am I speaking with Louise Glück?

glück: I really can’t do this.

smith: I promise it won’t be anything onerous.

glück: I have to have some coffee right now.

smith: Could I ask you what the award of the Nobel Prize means to you?

glück: I have no idea. My first thought was “I won’t have any friends” because most of my friends are writers. Of course there are recipients I don’t admire. I wanted to buy another house, a house in Vermont, and I thought, “Well, I can buy a house now.”

smith: It can be an intrusion, all this attention.

glück: It’s disruptive, the phone ringing all the time. It’s ringing now, squeaking into my ear.

smith: I fully understand. For those who are unfamiliar with your work—

glück: Many!

smith: Would you recommend a place for them to start?

glück: I would suggest that they not read my first book unless they want to feel contempt.

smith: There’s so much focus at the moment on the value of lived experience. How important do you think lived experience is to be able to talk about events?

glück: Oh, heavens. It’s barely seven o’clock.

smith: But it’s so much a feature of your own writing.

glück: Is the two minutes over?

smith: Yes. I’m sorry.


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January 2021