Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Bettors, Take Note: In Nobel Prize Pool, Kenyan Author Is No Longer A Long Shot

UPDATE at 4:27 p.m. ET:
He has pulled ahead! Ngugi wa Thiong'o's odds are now 7/2.

UPDATE at 3:04 p.m. ET:
Ngugi wa Thiong'o's odds are now 5/1, just behind Tomas Transtromer.

We issued a call to all of the belletristic bookies in our audience, to bet on the winner of this year's Nobel Prize in Literature, which the Swedish Academy is scheduled to announce on Thursday.

Last week, Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer had the best odds, according to Ladbrokes: 4/1. Although he still tops the list today, he has company from a former long shot:

"Ngugi wa Thiong'o heavily backed to win the Nobel Literature Prize," Betting Pro declares.

Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong'o has been the subject of the biggest gamble in the history of the Nobel Literature Prize, according to Ladbrokes.

The 72-year old ex-prisoner was 75/1 for the prize when the bookies opened their market last week but those odds have collapsed. He is now the 6/1 second favourite.

And Ladbrokes believe the massive gamble is the biggest of its kind in Nobel Prize betting history.

Spokesman David Williams said: "We've never seen anything like it. Ngugi was a rank outsider when we first looked at the candidates but we fear we've got it horribly wrong. Punters cant get enough of him and we're dreading him being announced the winner."

In 2004, NPR's Noah Adams spoke with Thiong'o about "the importance of creating literature in small languages in order to preserve world cultures." You can listen to it here.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

David Gura
Based in New York, David Gura is a correspondent on NPR's business desk. His stories are broadcast on NPR's newsmagazines, All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and he regularly guest hosts 1A, a co-production of NPR and WAMU.