The Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded annually to an author who has produced the most outstanding work in an ideal direction and whose work shows lasting literary merit. Previous winners include Toni Morrison, Rudyard Kipling, George Bernard Shaw, William Faulkner, and Ernest Hemingway. A couple of weeks ago, a Huffington Post article asked the question of whether JK Rowling should be added to this distinguished group and be awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature.
The Huffington Post author raises an excellent point. There is no doubt that the Harry Potter phenomenon has had a positive affect on children’s reading by encouraging children of all ages to read. It is clear that the Harry Potter series is hugely popular, with documented commercial success. Roughly 450 million copies of the book series have been sold, making Harry Potter the best selling book series in history. In addition, the Harry Potter series has generated a franchise that includes the film adaptations, video games, theme parks, and tie-in merchandise such as clothing and candy.
The Harry Potter books are lovely and JK Rowling weaves a delightful story. Her writing may not be the finest, but she has an excellent imagination and the world she has created is fantastic. The books are readable and saleable, and the adventures of Harry and his friends have drawn many people in. In addition, JK Rowling is an inspiration to many. From her Cinderella, rags to riches, fairy tale life of living on social security to becoming one of Britain’s richest people, her tale has taught people to never give up and to follow their dreams.
Despite these redeeming qualities, the question remains whether JK Rowling and the Harry Potter books live up to the artistic and literary merit that is associated with the Nobel Prize. While the books have won many awards and honors, including a Hugo Award for Best Novel, I guess we will have to wait and see. The Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded by the Swedish Academy and will be announced in early October.