Doris Lessing is the 2007 Nobel laureate in literature – and only the 11th woman in the prize’s 106-year history. Presented this morning in Stockholm, the citation describes Lessing as “that epicist of the female experience” and singles out 1962’s The Golden Notebook as one of “the handful of books that informed the 20th-century view of the male-female relationship.” The Swedish Academy also points to Lessing’s genre-expanding series of science fiction novels, Canopus in Argos (published from 1979 to 1984), which combined her signature themes of feminism, colonialism, mystical Sufism, and nuclear and ecological catastrophe.
Long considered a contender for the prize, Lessing “declared herself totally surprised” upon receiving the news “from a group of reporters camped on her doorstep” in London, reports The New York Times.
Short, stout and a bit hard of hearing, Ms. Lessing was sharp and straightforward in her comments. After a few moments, she excused herself and went inside.
“Now, I’m going to go in to answer my telephone,” she said. “I swear I’m going upstairs to find some suitable sentences which I will be using from now on.”
Whether or not this augurs well for Margaret Atwood, another Nobel “favourite,” remains to be seen.