When the Nobel Prize for literature is announced, my usual response is, “Um, who?”
After all, I don’t read (much) literary fiction, and to my knowledge no writer of children’s fiction or science fiction has been recognized for being “the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.” (Nobel’s criteria)
But this year’s winner, Mario Vargas Llosa, caught my eye – not only for being the first South American winner of the prize, and for his previous run for President of Peru, but because of this snippet from an interview:
Mr. Vargas Llosa has now left politics, and he believes that he can better shape the world with his pen. Or as he told me (the reporter) in Lima: “Through writing, one can change history.”
Being both a politician and a writer myself, this resonated with me. And while I’m nowhere near the stature of Mr. Vargas Llosa in either politics or writing, I can see the truth of his statement: I too believe that ideas are more powerful than any one person, and that capturing ideas in writing can literally change the world.
I believe children’s fiction has a similar power to move the world, by shaping the young lives that it influences. I know the books I read as a child had a formative effect on the way I think and the beliefs that I still hold. Perhaps someday, the Nobel committee will recognize the importance of children’s literature. But until then, I will have to read some of Mr. Vargas Llosa’s work, to see how his pen is shaping the world. Most of his novels rail against the evils of dictatorships, which is something the world needs to hear.
Note to Mr. Vargas Llosa: Mockingjay is an anti-dictatorship YA novel that you would probably enjoy.
Note to my followers: Make sure to enter the Scribbler’s Cove contest to win a signed copy of Mockingjay. Contest ends 10/15.