They’re technically not wrong though.

On 10 October, The Swedish Academy in Stockholm announced the winners of The Nobel Prizes in Literature for 2018 and 2019 went to two people who weren’t me, despite my own “outstanding contributions in literature” such as my cilantro-themed tale of heartbreak or rhyming review of black eggs.

▼ I really think I explored the soul of coriander flavored instant noodles more deeply than any other writer before me.

Now, you might be thinking I’m being petty or even slightly unhinged by reporting the results of the Nobel Prizes this way, but that’s pretty much what Kyodo News, Japan’s equivalent of AFP or Reuters, did on the day of the announcement.

Headline: “Nobel Prize in Literature goes to foreigners.”

The link which this tweet leads to goes to the entire article, which we translated in its entirety below:

“Nobel Prize in Literature goes to foreigners

[Kyodo Stockholm] On 10 October, The Swedish Academy announced the winners of the 2018 and 2019 Nobel Prize in Literature, neither of whom were Japanese.”

In defense of this rather brief article, it was written at 8:03 p.m. Japan time, which would be mere moments after the announcement was made. Also, it takes a little reading between the lines, but the phrasing of this article would strongly suggest that it was an attempt to break the story that Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami had once again not won, despite a long held belief by many in Japan that he is overdue for a Nobel Prize.

About nine minutes later, Kyodo published another article announcing the names of the winners as Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke. This was followed by more in-depth coverage of each winner throughout the day.

Headline: “Nobel Prize in Literature goes to female Polish author.”

So, it would seem that this awkward headline was merely the result of eagerness to break the story that Murakami hadn’t won, but could be easily misread as either sour-grapes or a self-deprecating joke. Many online, however, didn’t find much to laugh about with this kind of reporting.

“Why only make a big fuss if a Japanese person wins? It’s great news no matter who wins.”
“This is the most embarrassing headline in history.”
“Is that headline okay? Should all news be segregated by Japanese and foreigners? Crazy.”
“Are you not ashamed as a media company by that headline?”
“That’s really rude.”
“What the hell?! There is not an ounce of intelligence in this.”
“I don’t get why Japanese people think Murakami is deserving of this award and making an exclusionist article based on that premise is embarrassing.”
Hey world, this is Japan.
“I wonder if all these people complaining about the headline know that the article is terrible too.”
“Eh, I have to admit, that’s exactly what I was thinking when I heard the news.”
“If they were going for a joke, they should have just said: Murakami loses again.”

In the end, “most embarrassing headline in history” seems extreme, especially since I think we have a few kicking around this website that could top it.

However, it certainly isn’t the best wording when referring to an award that was designed by Alfred Nobel to have “no consideration be given to nationality…” and then was given to 104 Europeans and North Americans over the past 118 years.

Source: Kyodo News, Twitter/@kyodo_official, Hachima Kiko
Top image: Wikipedia/Asav
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