Britain’s Doris Lessing wins 2007 Nobel prize in literature

;NEW YORK (AP) – Doris Lessing, Nobel laureate. This year’s winner of the literature prize should inspire a fresh look at the long, prolific career of the author of “The Golden Notebook” and dozens of other works, and a fresh debate about the taste of Nobel judges.

The 87-year-old Lessing, whose novels, short stories, memoirs and plays have reflected her own unexpected journeys across time, space and ideology, was praised Thursday by the Swedish Academy for her “skepticism, fire and visionary power.”

“I’ve won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one, so I’m delighted to win them all,” said Lessing, alighting from a taxi outside her brick row house in North London as reporters gave her the news. Her previous honors include the James Tait Black Memorial Book Prize and the W.H. Smith Literary Award.

“It’s a royal flush,” she said.

For at least one generation of women, “The Golden Notebook,” Lessing’s 1962 novel about a writer’s personal and political reckoning, was a moment of self-discovery comparable to “Catch-22” for anti-war protesters or “The Catcher in the Rye” for teenagers.

But the Swedish academy’s announcement was stunning even by the standards of Nobel literature judges, who have been known for such surprises as Austria’s Elfriede Jelinek and Italy’s Dario Fo, picks challenged for valuing political dissent over artistic merit.

Lessing, almost two weeks short of her 88th birthday, is the oldest choice ever for a prize that usually goes to authors in their 50s and 60s. Although she continues to publish at least every other year, she has received little attention for her recent work and has been criticized as didactic and impenetrable.

“This is pure political correctness,” American literary critic Harold Bloom, commenting on Lessing’s Nobel, told The Associated Press. “Although Ms. Lessing at the beginning of her writing career had a few admirable qualities, I find her work for the past 15 years quite unreadable … fourth-rate science fiction.”