The literary world lit up this morning when news broke that British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro had been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, hailed by many as a well-deserved honor. But the sweet taste of victory soon turned sour for Ishiguro when a damning document surfaced soon after. Now, the Nobel committee has rescinded Ishiguro’s prize after discovering a college sophomore’s essay that blasts his novel Never Let Me Go as an indulgent, clunky social satire.
What a fiasco.
The essay, entitled “Send In The Clones: The (Non-)Commentary Of Never Let Me Go,” was brought to the attention of the Nobel committee only after its decision had been announced, but the paper’s troubling existence and withering stance on Ishiguro’s work convinced the committee to reverse its decision. Written in 2011 by Hamilton College student Dylan Hackett for his mandatory sophomore contemporary literature seminar, the essay takes Ishiguro to task for presenting a “lazy, ham-fisted dystopia that isn’t nearly as smart as it seems to think it is” and that Hackett insists “any reader who has seen Blade Runner can figure out within the first few chapters.”
The Nobel committee was particularly shaken by Hackett’s observation that The House Of The Scorpion did more or less the same thing with organ-donor clones, but made it much more exciting.
In a statement this afternoon, the committee defended its controversial decision:
“In light of Dylan Hackett’s essay, we have no choice but to rescind Mr. Ishiguro’s Nobel Prize. This is not a decision made in haste, but one considered in full light of Dylan’s assertion that Never Let Me Go never decides whether it wants to be sci-fi or just a regular novel, and so doesn’t end up doing either particularly well. While the committee did duly consider that the essay received a B grade, it should be noted that it was primarily because Dylan lost 10 points automatically for neglecting to attach a bibliography, and should not be taken as a reflection on the work itself.”
Yikes. Ishiguro’s going to have a really hard time coming back from a humiliation like this. Aspiring future Nobel Prize winners, take note: Check your closets for skeletons like this!