Does Don DeLillo deserve the Nobel?

This guy lays out his reasons for “yes”. Do you have reasons to add? Or better yet, reasons for “no”?

By every metric that we use to measure literary greatness—including overall achievement, scope and variety of subject matter, striking and fully realized style, duration of career, originality and formal innovation, widespread influence here and abroad, production of masterpieces, consistency of excellence, pertinence of themes, density of critical commentary, and dignity in the conduct of a literary career—Don DeLillo, now eighty-three, scores in the highest possible percentile. Since the publication of his ebullient and film-drenched first novel, Americana, in 1971—imagine if Mad Men had actually realized its literary pretensions instead of merely displaying them—he has produced sixteen novels and one story collection, not one of them without great value and interest and several of them regarded as among the supreme monuments in postwar American fiction. A recurrent criticism of American literature is that our writers are somehow stunted in the overall development and unfolding of their careers by the thinness of our cultural soil, as opposed to the more nurtured and stately European model. DeLillo’s career, so fecund and dazzling no matter what part of it you examine, so marked by growth from early promise to jaw-dropping midlife mastery to late-stage and highly personal autumnal richness, puts paid to that critique. I would go so far as to argue that no other American novelist in our literary history can match him for consistency matched with productivity. Even Roth, who, despite his astonishing late-career spurt, produced a fair number of duds.

Given the space and time I could fill an entire issue of this publication with extended praise songs of DeLillo and his novels. I have read his work since the early ’70s with the utmost attention and admiration, and—you should know—I edited one of his supreme masterpieces, Libra, an exalting experience, an editor’s dream. For now, though, let’s focus on the major justifications for a DeLillo Nobel. The case rests, I believe, on four propositions.

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