Nobody knows who will be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Nobody. Not the Swedish Academy, which is still reading through the works of the very secret short list of finalists. Not the most erudite international reader or spot-on fortuneteller. And certainly not me.
That said, I'm going to make some wild, barely founded guesses about some possible contenders.
Like, say, Chinua Achebe. Born in Nigeria, Achebe (pictured) is the author of one of the most enduring works of 20th century African literature: "Things Fall Apart." Published in 1958, the novel chronicled the clash of cultures between the Nigerian protagonist and Christian missionaries. Achebe has been a politically involved writer -- something the Academy often looks upon favorably -- and he'll turn 82 in November. He seems like a strong candidate.
But current bettors haven't lined up behind him. Instead, early support at Nicerrods, a British oddsmaker, has put Chinese writer Mo Yan on top. Mo Yan -- a pseudonym that means "don't speak" -- is best known in the West for "Red Sorghum." The 57-year-old lives in and writes about his hometown, Shandong, China.
Over at British betting house Ladbrokes, which takes bets on the Nobel Prize in Literature every year, Mo Yan is running in second place, with odds at 12/1. He's been edged out by Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, 63, who is in first with 10/1 odds. Murakami's latest novel, "1Q84," was an L.A. Times bestseller. I don't think I'm going too far out on a limb by saying that in America, Murakami's work is better known than Mo Yan's.