Can You Guess the Authors by Their Nobel Citations?

Gabe Habash -- May 2nd, 2013

Mr. Murakami is not pleased, Swedish Academy.

PWxyz doesn’t have time for non-nerdy quizzes; there are too many of those. Instead, here’s one of the more blistering tests this side of the Badwater Ultramarathon–guess the Nobel winner by citation. The format is much like a non-demanding English course–everyone’s favorite: multiple choice! In an attempt to make it less trying, we’ve narrowed down citations and choices to the more household-known Nobel winners. Sorry, 1903 laureate Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, you just missed the cut.

Oh, and let’s say a 10/10 gets you a coveted one-way ticket to Mars. Tell us your score in the comments!


1. “For having transported the destitution of man into his exaltation”

A. Albert Camus

B. Samuel Beckett

C. Isaac Bashevis Singer

2. “For a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent’s destiny and dreams”

A. Pablo Neruda

B. W.B. Yeats

C. T.S. Eliot

3. “For his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception”

A. Rudyard Kipling

B. John Steinbeck

C. Eugene O’Neill

4. “For his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts”

A. Gabriel Garcia Marquez

B. Thomas Mann

C. Jose Saramago

5. “Who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality”

A. Saul Bellow

B. Ernest Hemingway

C. Toni Morrison

6. “Whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history”

A. Sinclair Lewis

B. Seamus Heaney

C. Gunter Grass

7. “Who in innumerable guises portrays the surprising involvement of the outsider”

A. J.M. Coetzee

B. Pearl S. Buck

C. Joseph Brodsky

8. “Who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures”

A. V.S. Naipaul

B. Orhan Pamuk

C. Octavio Paz

9. “For his work which is marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty”

A. George Bernard Shaw

B. Jean-Paul Sartre

C. Winston Churchill

10. “For his novels which, with the perspicuity of realistic narrative art and the diversity and universality of myth, illuminate the human condition in the world of today”

A. Herman Hesse

B. William Golding

C. William Faulkner


1. B, Samuel Beckett

2. A, Pablo Neruda

3. B, John Steinbeck

4. A, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

5. C, Toni Morrison

6. C, Gunter Grass

7. A, J.M. Coetzee

8. B, Orhan Pamuk

9. A, George Bernard Shaw

10. B, William Golding

11 thoughts on “Can You Guess the Authors by Their Nobel Citations?

  1. SJR

    I only got 5 of 10 (missed 1, 4, 6, 7, 10), and I ought to lose points on #10 because I was torn between A or C, but was sure it wasn’t B.

  2. ajabine

    6 out of 10. Regarding #2 and #4, you can’t go wrong assuming the prize committee will think that South American authors speak for a whole continent.

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