Odds on novelist, theorist and activist Ngugi wa Thiong'o tumble from 75-1 to 3-1
- guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 5 October 2010
Nobel prize contender Ngugi wa Thiong'o. Photograph: Murdo Macleod
With the announcement of the winner of this year's Nobel prize for literature due later this week, Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong'o has emerged as a late favourite at the bookmakers.
Ladbrokes has now installed the writer in prime position, slashing his odds from an opening price of 75-1 to 3-1. Also rising up the rankings is US novelist Cormac McCarthy, now in second place at 6-1, with Japanese writer Haruki Marukami in third position at 7-1. Last week's favourite, the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, is now ranked fourth in the Ladbroke's odds with a 9-1 chance of winning the award.
A novelist, post-colonial theorist and social activist, Ngugi wa Thiong'o currently holds the post of Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine. He began writing in English, but following his arrest and imprisonment without charge at the Kamiti Maximum Security Prison in Kenya after the performance of his critical play, Ngaahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When I Want) in 1977, he made the decision to work in his mother tongue, Gikuyu. He wrote the novel Caitani Mutharabaini (The Devil on the Cross) on toilet paper during his time in prison; his other works include the childhood memoir Dreams in a Time of War and the sweeping satire Wizard of the Crow (Murogi wa Kagogo), which is widely considered to be his finest work.
"We've never seen anything like it," said Ladbrokes spokesman David Williams of Ngugi wa Thiong'o's rise through the odds. "Ngugi was a rank outsider when we first looked at the candidates but we fear we've got it horribly wrong. Punters can't get enough of him and we're dreading him being announced the winner."
The award will be announced at 11am GMT on Thursday 7 October.