Saturday, October 16, 2010

Waiting for the Phone to Ring

Last week, when the Nobel Prizes were announced, I wondered what it is like for the prominent economists, scientists, and literary figures, whose names are mentioned each year as leading candidates. Does the anxiety build up as the announcement date draws near? Knowing precisely when the phone call will come, if it comes, do they toss and turn all night before?

In today's Telegraph (here)Howard Jacobson, the winner of this year's Man Booker Prize for fiction, for his book The Finkler Question (Bloomsbury 2010), provides an insightful and entertaining answer to that question. One question he does not answer, however, is whether ambitious scientists, economists, and writers choose their projects or adjust their work in order to maximize their chances of achieving their prize ambitions. My guess is that many, if not all, do so.

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