Who will win the 2017 Nobel Literature Prize after Bob Dylan?

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2017: Kazuo Ishiguro

Japan-born British novelist, screenwriter and short story writer Kazuo Ishiguro won the 2017 award. His most renowned novel, "The Remains of the Day" (1989), was adapted into a movie starring Anthony Hopkins. His works deal with memory, time and self-delusion.

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2016: Bob Dylan

An atypical but world famous laureate: US songwriter Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016. The Swedish Academy selected him "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."

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2015: Svetlana Alexievich

Calling her work "a monument to suffering and courage in our time," the Swedish Academy honored the Belarusian author and investigative journalist in 2015 — making her only the 14th woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature since 1901. Alexievich is best known for her emotive firsthand accounts of war and suffering, including "War's Unwomanly Face" (1985) and "Voices from Chernobyl" (2005).

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2014: Patrick Modiano

The French writer's stories describe a universe of haunted cities, absentee parents, criminality and lost youths. They are all set in Paris with the shadow of the Second World War looming heavily in the background. The Swedish Academy described the novelist, whose work has often focused on the Nazi occupation of France, as "a Marcel Proust of our time."

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2013: Alice Munro

Canadian writer Alice Munro is no stranger to accolades, having received the Man Booker International Prize and the Canadian Governor General Literary Award three times over. The Swedish Academy, which awards the annual Nobel Prize in Literature, called her a "master of the contemporary short story."

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2012: Mo Yan

Guan Moye, better known under his pen name Mo Yan, was praised by the Swedish Academy as a writer "who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary." The decision was criticized by Chinese dissidents like artist Ai Weiwei, who claimed Yan was too close to the Chinese Communist Party and did not support fellow intellectuals who faced political repression.

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2011: Tomas Transtromer

The Academy chose Tomas Gosta Transtromer as the winner in 2011 "because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality." In the 1960s, the Swedish poet worked as a psychologist at a center for juvenile offenders. His poetry has been translated into over 60 languages.

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2010: Mario Vargas Llosa

The Peruvian novelist received the Nobel Prize "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat." In Latin America, he is famous for uttering the phrase "Mexico is the perfect dictatorship" on TV in 1990 and for punching his once-friend and fellow Nobel laureate, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in the face in 1976.

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2009: Herta Müller

The German-Romanian author was awarded the Nobel Prize as a writer "who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed." She is noted for her work criticizing the repressive communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania, which she experienced herself. Müller writes in German and moved to West Berlin in 1987.

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2008: Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio

The Swedish Academy called J.M.G. Le Clezio an "author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization." Le Clezio was born in Nice, France, in 1940 to a French mother and a Mauritian father. He holds dual citizenship and calls Mauritius his "little fatherland."

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2007: Doris Lessing

British author Doris May Lessing has written novels, plays and short stories, to name just a few of her mediums. The 93-year-old received the Nobel Prize for being a writer "who with skepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny." She campaigned against nuclear weapons and the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

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2006: Orhan Pamuk

Ferit Orhan Pamuk, "who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures," was the first Turkish author to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. With more than 11 million books sold, he is Turkey's bestselling writer. Pamuk was born in Istanbul and currently teaches at Columbia University in New York City.

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2005: Harold Pinter

Harold Pinter, "who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms," was awarded the Nobel Prize three years before his death from liver cancer. He died on Christmas Eve in 2008. The British playwright directed and acted in many radio and film productions of his own work. In total, he received more than 50 awards.

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2004: Elfriede Jelinek

The Nobel Prize was awarded to Elfriede Jelinek "for her musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels" and for her plays that reveal society's clichés. A central theme in Jelinek's work is female sexuality. Her novel "The Piano Teacher" was the basis for the 2001 movie of the same name featuring Isabelle Huppert in the lead role.

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2003: John Maxwell Coetzee

J. M. Coetzee, "who in innumerable guises portrays the surprising involvement of the outsider," was also awarded the Booker Prize twice before obtaining the Nobel Prize. The Cape Town-born author became an Australian citizen in 2006. One of his best-known novels, "Disgrace" (1999), is set in post-apartheid South Africa.

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2002: Imre Kertesz

The Jewish Hungarian Auschwitz survivor became Nobel laureate "for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history." Kertesz, who died in March 2016, described the atrocities of concentration camps in his books. He worked over 13 years on his semi-autobiographical novel "Fatelessness," which was first published in 1975.

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2001: Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul

V.S. Naipaul received the Nobel Prize in 2001 for his strong storytelling and "for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories." Born in Trinidad and Tobago, the British writer has often explored the freedom of the individual in a declining society in his novels.

Culture

2000: Gao Xingjian

The first Nobel Prize laureate of the new millennium was a Chinese author, playwright and painter based in Paris since 1987. Gao Xingjian was selected for his "oeuvre of universal validity, bitter insights and linguistic ingenuity, which has opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama."

Who are the potential laureates for the prestigious literary award? After last year's controversy surrounding Bob Dylan, the Swedish Academy is expected to go with a more traditional choice.

Last year's pick caused a stir right from the start. When Bob Dylan became the first singer-songwriter to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, many critics argued that the prestigious distinction — intended for a literary figure who has produced an outstanding work or body of work — should have gone to an actual author. 

The musician also added to the controversy by refusing to comment on his win for weeks and then snubbing the formal prize ceremony in Stockholm last December. Dylan later accepted his award in a private ceremony in April 2017.

Read more: Bob Dylan sends lecture to Nobel Literature Committee

Therefore, many expect the Academy to make a more conservative choice this year. "We shouldn't expect anything sensational," predicted Clemens Poellinger, literary critic for Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet.

In 2017, the academy considered about 195 candidates, who were pared down to a list of five names, according to the Swedish Academy's Permanent Secretary Sara Danius. The committee then read and reviewed the works of the five short-listed writers over a period of months. The short list of potential candidates is top secret — and even kept under seal for 50 years after the award is given.

Bookmakers offer countless options

To keep literature fans busy while waiting for the actual announcement, online betting sites provide a series of potential candidates to consider. 

For those looking to place a potentially lucrative bet, bookmakers are giving 1000-to-1 odds on rapper Kanye West and President Donald Trump.

Ngugi wa Thiong'o afrikanischer Autor

Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong'o

However, the names actually leading the speculation are well-established authors.

Among them is Kenyan novelist, playwright and essayist Ngugi wa Thiong'o, whose work also includes short stories and books for children.

Other perennial favorites are Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami and Israeli writer Amos Oz, as well as Syrian poet Adonis and author Don DeLillo of the United States.

Related Subjects

A newcomer who is creating a buzz this year is Chinese novelist Yan Lianke.

Read more: Syrian poet Adonis hits back at criticism over German peace prize

Why not a woman?

Despite the diverse nationalities of this year's rumored contenders, the Academy has been critized in the past for its alleged bias towards European authors. Gender, too, has been a controverisal talking point. Of the 113 laureates honored since French author Sully Prudhomme won the first prize in 1901, only 14 have been women.

Margaret Atwood Porträt Nobelpreis 2015 Kandidatin Schriftstellerin Autorin

Margaret Atwood is the author of "The Handmaid's Tale"

That makes Canada's Margaret Atwood another 2017 favorite for online betting sites. Her dystopian novel "The Handmaid's Tale" was recently adapted into an Emmy-award-winning TV series.

Read more: 9 must-read books to face the Trump era

Still, the prestigious distinction could also go to a complete unknown.

As wished by Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite who used his vast fortune to create the series of prizes, the literary awardee "has to be someone who deals with universal questions, someone who makes us reflect about all of us," explained Swedish publisher Elisabeth Grate.

The prize comes with nine million Swedish kronor (around $1.1 million or €937,000). The winner will be announced Thursday at 1 p.m. local Stockholm time (11 UTC).

eg/cmb  (AFP, AP)