Pearl Buck, Pulitzer Prize-winning American author

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Hot on the heels of Black  History month comes Women’s History month, a time set aside in the US to honor women and the strides we have made over the centuries.

The women’s movement began in 1848 by a group of women headed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton as a way to air their greivances at being treated as second-class citizens. It snowballed into a widespread movement that swept the world and changed the way women functioned in the spheres of politics, education, finance, employment, health and sexuality.  No longer would women not be allowed to vote or enter the halls of education, become lawyers, doctors or ministers of religion. No longer would they be relegated to jobs way below their abilities.  

But since this is a writing website, and it is women’s history month, I will focus on female writers who have shaped the literary landscape in America and the world and have been honored for  their brilliant achievements.

Nobel prize winners

Pearl Buck (1938), whose book The Good Earth was recognized by Oprah’s Book Club Selection. The Good Earth (1931) is the first of a trilogy, followed by Sons (1932) and A House Divided (1935).  The Nobel committee praised Buck for “her rich and epic descriptions of peasant life in China and her biographical masterpieces”.

Gabriela Mistral (1945) for her poetry collection Desolacion (Despair).

Toni Morrison (1993), arguably the most recognized writer on the list. Morrison is the author of Bluest Eye, Sula, Beloved and others

These are just a few of the 12 women who have so far distinguished themselves by having won the prestigious Nobel Prize. 

How is a writer selected for the Nobel Prize?

The Nobel committee sends invitations to 600-700 persons and organizations who are qualified to nominate writers for the award. No one can nominate himself or herself. When these nomination forms are returned, the committee screens them and reduces the list to about 15-20 names. This list is further whittled down to about 5 names, which are then sent to the Swedish Academy, the body responsible for the final selection of the Nobel Laureate. The Nobel Laureate names are announced in October and in December they head for Stockholm, Sweden to pick up their receive.

Who are the nominators?

They are:

Members of the Swedish Academy and similar academies

University professors of literature and linguistics

Previous Nobel laureates

Presidents of societies of authors that represent literary production

So, you can see that in order to receive such a prestigious award, you have to attain the heights of excellence. Even though the selection may appear to be random, you would have had to be a highly prominent figure in the literary world in order to even be nominated. I think these women mentioned here deserve our greatest honor and respect.  Are there any future  Nobel Laureates for literature out there?  Leave a comment and let me know what you are doing to get on the road to Sweden.   

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