The Swedish Academy, which has been criticized for not awarding talents like James Joyce and Vladimir Nabokov, is almost impossible to read. The Nobel committee does not release the shortlist until 50 years after the prize is awarded and literary critics have been wrong far more than they have been right in predicting the winner each year.
According to the odds for this year, Russian authors have little shot at the prize. The post-modernist writer Viktor Pelevin was listed as a 50-to-1 possibility in 2011, though the prize ultimately went to Swede Tomas TranstrЪmer.
Yevgeny Yevtushenko, the dissident Soviet writer and poet, is perhaps the closest this year, though his odds at winning the award, 100 to 1, are still twice as long as the seemingly ludicrous idea of giving the award to folk legend Bob Dylan.
Alexander Donohue, who runs the Nobel Prize for literature bets at Ladbroke's, told The Moscow Times that at the end of last week, no money had yet been placed on the Russian writer who came to prominence during the Khrushchev thaw. The lack of interest from gamblers, despite the fact that the pot is one of the site's most international, compounds the minimal English-language chatter about Yevtushenko. By comparison, Donohue said thousands of British pounds have been placed on the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami and the American novelist Joyce Carol Oates, at 3 to 1 and 6 to 1, respectively.