For what I imagine to be a variety of reasons… perhaps because I have been a professional writer of screenplays and novels for more years than I care to admit in public or perhaps because I have served on awards committees for PEN and the Los Angeles Times, among others, that gave literary prizes… many people have emailed me asking what I think of the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Harold Pinter.
Unlike many selections by the Nobel Committee in the recent past, I think the award is eminently deserved. Whatever one may think of Mr. Pinter’s recent political opinions… and I think they are execrable… he is unquestionably one of the great playwrights of the second half of the Twentieth Century, in my estimation the most important since Samuel Beckett. The Caretaker and The Dumb Waiter by themselves assure him a place in the pantheon of modern dramatists. As a writer of English dialogue, he is non-pareil. The Nobel Committee is to be commended for their choice. Let us hope this marks a turn away from the sectarian on their part and toward recognized literary excellence.
UPDATE: To be clear, judging by past performance, I would not be surprised if the Nobel committee was influenced by Pinter’s Euro-trendy anti-Americanism. But that doesn’t diminish my tremendous admiration for the playwright’s best work, most of which was done, admittedly, decades ago.