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Each year, hundreds of authors pen books worth celebrating—but only a select few have the honor of being called a Nobel laureate. If you’re looking for something truly special to discuss with your reading group, you can’t go wrong with a classic from one of these literary luminaries. Keep reading to learn more about some of the Nobel Prize–winning authors from the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group—and find a full list of our Nobel recipients at the bottom of this post!
Kazuo Ishiguro—Winner in 2017
Born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954, Kazuo Ishiguro moved to Britain at the age of five. His eight previous works of fiction have earned him many honors around the world, including the Booker Prize. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages, and The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, both made into acclaimed films, have each sold more than two million copies. His most recent novel, Klara and the Sun, is a magnificent and moving look at artificial intelligence, friendship, and love.
Alice Munro—Winner in 2013
Alice Munro grew up in Wingham, Ontario, and attended the University of Western Ontario. She has authored thirteen collections of stories as well as a novel, Lives of Girls and Women, and two volumes of selected stories. During her distinguished career, she has been the recipient of many awards and prizes, including three of Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Awards and two Giller Prizes, the Rea Award for the Short Story, the Lannan Literary Award, England’s W. H. Smith Literary Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Man Booker International Prize.
Orhan Pamuk—Winner in 2006
Orhan Pamuk’s novel My Name Is Red won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2003. His work has been translated into more than sixty languages.
V.S. Naipaul—Winner in 2001
V.S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad in 1932. He came to England on a scholarship in 1950. He spent four years at University College, Oxford, and began to write, in London, in 1954. He pursued no other profession. In 1971 he was awarded the Booker Prize for In a Free State. In 1990, V.S. Naipaul received a knighthood for services to literature; in 1993, he was the first recipient of the David Cohen British Literature Prize. He died in 2018.
Toni Morrison—Winner in 1993
Toni Morrison is the author of eleven novels, from The Bluest Eye (1970) to God Help the Child (2015). She received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize. She died in 2019. Her 1983 short story, Recitif, will be published for the first time in hardcover in 2022.
Naguib Mahfouz—Winner in 1988
Naguib Mahfouz was born in Cairo in 1911 and began writing when he was seventeen. His nearly forty novels and hundreds of short stories range from reimaginings of ancient myths to subtle commentaries on contemporary Egyptian politics and culture. Of his many works, the most famous is the Cairo Trilogy, consisting of Palace Walk (1956), Palace of Desire (1957), and Sugar Street (1957), which focuses on a Cairo family through three generations, from 1917 until 1952. In 1988, he was the first writer in Arabic to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He died in 2006.
Wole Soyinka—Winner in 1986
Born in Abeokuta, Nigeria, in 1934, he is an author, playwright, poet, and political activist whose prolific body of work includes The Interpreters, his debut novel that was published in 1965, and Death and the King’s Horseman, a play that was first performed in 1976. Soyinka was twice jailed in Nigeria for his criticism of the Nigerian government, and he destroyed his U.S. green card in 2016 when Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. His latest novel, Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth, is a savagely satiric look at how power and greed can corrupt the soul of a nation.
Gabriel García Márquez —Winner in 1982
Gabriel García Márquez was born in Colombia in 1927. He is the author of many works of fiction and nonfiction, including One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. He died in 2014.
Albert Camus—Winner in 1957
Born in Algeria in 1913, Albert Camus published The Stranger—one of the most widely read novels of the twentieth century—in 1942. On January 4, 1960, he was killed in a car accident. His seminal work, The Plague, will be released with a brand-new English language translation by Laura Marris in 2021.
William Faulkner—Winner in 1949
William Faulkner, one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, was born in New Albany, Mississippi, on September 25, 1897. He published his first book, The Marble Faun, in 1924, but it is as a literary chronicler of life in the Deep South—particularly in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, the setting for several of his novels—that he is most highly regarded. In combining the use of symbolism with a stream-of-consciousness technique, he created a new approach to fiction writing. Faulkner died in Byhalia, Mississippi, on July 6, 1962.
Kazuo Ishiguro (2017) ● Alice Munro (2013) ● Doris Lessing (2007) ● Orhan Pamuk (2006) ● Imre Kertész (2002) ● V.S. Naipaul (2001) ● Toni Morrison (1993) ● Naguib Mahfouz (1988) ● Wole Soyinka (1986) ● Gabriel García Márquez (1982) ● Czesław Miłosz (1980) ● Yasunari Kawabata (1968) ● Mikhail Sholokhov (1965) ● Jean-Paul Sartre (1964) ● Boris Pasternak (1958—forced to decline prize) ● Albert Camus (1957) ● Hälldor Laxness (1955) ● Pär Lagerkvist (1951) ● William Faulkner (1949) ● André Gide (1947) ● Eugene O’Neill (1936) ● Thomas Mann (1929) ● Sigrid Undset (1928) ● Knut Hamsun (1920) ● Rudyard Kipling (1907)