Nobel Prize in Literature 2011: The surprising top 4 favorites

The winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature – one of the highest awards a writer can receive – will be announced on Thursday. Here’s a somewhat surprising look at the top four contenders.

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1. Bob Dylan: odds are 5/1

That’s right, the surprise dark horse in the Nobel race is the iconic American singer-songwriter, musician, and poet. Dylan surged to first place in Ladbroke’s ranking in a 24-hour-period, when his 100/1 odds became 10/1 and now 5/1. Ladbrokes recently issued a press release establishing him as the firm favorite after 80 percent of bets accepted in the last 12 hours were placed on him.

Alex Donohue of Ladbrokes said: "Everything now points to Dylan taking the prize. At first we had him down as a rank outsider but the committee has been known to spring a shock and punters the world over feel Dylan will be the beneficiary."

Surprise? Maybe, but Dylan has a lot to recommend him. As well as being a respected songwriter with known for his politically-acute lyrics, Dylan has published several books including “Chronicles Volume One,” “Tarantula,” and “Lyrics: 1962-2001.” Several of his early counterculture songs including “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” and “The Times They Are A-Changin,” became anthems for anti-war and civil rights movements in the US. And Dylan is an incredibly versatile musician, embracing in his 50-year career, folk, blues, country, rock and roll, gospel, jazz, and even swing, as well as incorporating political, literary, social, and philosophical themes in his lyrics.

Ladbrokes told The Guardian it would have "a significant five-figure payout" on its hands if Dylan wins the Nobel. "We've seen enough activity from the right people to suggest Dylan now has a huge chance this year. If he doesn't make the shortlist at least there will be some seriously burnt fingers," said spokesman Alex Donohue. "As Dylan said, money doesn't talk, it swears. If he does the business there might be a few expletives from us as well."

Incidentally, the Nobel ceremony takes place this Thursday, Oct. 6, the same day Dylan starts his UK and Ireland tour. A Nobel win just might be the best opening act ever.

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