Paysages forecast for Nobel Prize in Literature 2018/2019

Next Thursday, 10 October, at 13:00 CET the Swedish Academy will announce the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2018 and 2019. In the years as blogger on le I tried to make a forecast for the annual Nobel Prize in Literature[1], the last in 2017 – under the titel “Paysages forecast for Nobel Prize in Literature 2017”. Since them a long time has passed, – the paysagesblog on le disappeared, because in April 2019 le Monde decided to stop his subscribers blogs, blogs which were called “les blogs abonnées du” in French[2]. In Juin 2019 “paysages” was relaunched with the post “Nouveau départ pour le blog paysages” on  So I relaunch here my “Nobel Prize Forecast in Literature” on paysage, in continuation of what I wrote on paysages when it was hosted and edited on “les Blogs le”.

Concerning the Nobel Prize in Literature 2018/19 it’s very difficult to make a plausible forecast, perhaps we will see the name of Anne Carson or Maryse Condé appear on the scene, as  M.A. Orthofer wrote it on the 30 of September 2019 in the Literary saloon. Perhaps one of the prizes could be awarded to Milan Kundera as Bertrand Fitoussi wrote recently in the Express.

scan pierre antónio lobo antunesBut frankly spoken I have no clear idea, – my personal favorite is the Portuguese novelist António Lobo Antunes. Just reading “Até Que as Pedras Se Tornem Mais Leves Que a Água” in the French translation «Jusqu’à ce que les pierres deviennent plus douces que l’eau » of Dominique Nédellec published by Christian Bourgois Éditeur in Paris, I think that Antunes would largely merit to get a Nobel prize in Literature. The book was also recently translated into English by Jeffe Love under the titel “Until Stones Become Lighter Than Water[3]” in the serie “The Margellos World Republic of Letters” published by Yale University Press.

Bookcover Until Stones Become Lighter Than WaterSo my list of favorite’s begins with António Lobo Antunes, even if he does not appear on any odd list. Antunes could be followed by Maryse Condé, Claudio Magris, and the following writers I also listed in 2017Adonis, Ismail Kadare, Margaret Atwood, Art Spiegelman, Marjane Satrapi, or Don DeLillo. Next Thursday at 13.00 we will know more!

Christophe Neff, 08.10.2019

P.S. (10.10.2019 13:25): Finally Olga Tokarczuk was awarderd with the Nobel Prize in Literatur 2018 and Peter Handke with the Nobel Price in Literature 2019.


[1]  See also, Le Nobel à Herta Müller ? Der Literaturnobelpreis für Herta Müller ? ,Wer wird den Literaturnobelpreis 2010 verliehen bekommen?, Blognotice 5.10.2011 – neiges automnales & prochain lauréat du Prix Nobel de littérature , Paysages forecast for Nobel Prize in Literature 2012, Paysages forecast for Nobel Prize in Literature 2013, Paysages forecast for Nobel Prize in Literature 2014, Paysages forecast for Nobel Prize in Literature 2015, Paysages forecast for Nobel Prize in Literature 2016, Paysages forecast for Nobel Prize in Literature 2017.

[2] See also: «La fin annoncée des blogs abonnées du, la fin du blog paysages sur les blogs » and « La fin du blog paysages sur les blogs – Das Ende des Blog « paysages » auf den Blogs von Le ».

[3] Book description of “Until Stones Become Lighter Than Water” on the Yale University Press Site.

Pyrotragedies – a critical retrospective on the wildfire situation in Europe during July 2018

July 2018 was the month in which Europe was heavily affected by wildfire events. There where forest fires in Sweden, in Greece and even in Germany there was one major forest fire event in July 2018.  A Scots Pine Forest near Fichtenwalde was heavily affected by a fire[1], thus remembering German authorities that Germany can also  be concerned by forest fires, – and recalling the terrible souvenirs of the Forest fires of the Lüneburger Heide in summer 1975. But it was Greece which was so heavily hit by several fire events, –the 2018 Attica wildfires – the city of Mati had to face a real “pyrotragedy” to use the words of Paulo Fernandes a portugese wild fire researcher[2]. Mati has been more or less completely erased by the wildfires, a landscape of ruins and desolation and a very high dead toll – about 88 people were killed by the fires in Mati[3]. For me the pictures of the landscape of ruins of Mati called up the souvenirs of the terrible fire event of  Pedrógão Grande[4] in Portugal last year.

Working on forest fires since the beginning of my academic career in 1992, I have been one of those scientists, who are continuously warning that climate change will also increase forest fire risks[5],[6]. But I also warn, since the beginning 1990’s, when I was mapping wild fire risks in the “Garrigues de  Nîmes”[7] under the guidance of Louis Trabaud[8], Peter Frankenberg and Rainer Joha Bender[9] that californisation & rural abandonment & bushencroachment are making the coming generation of forest fires so dangerous.

Californisation[10]  is the “terminus technicus” used in francophone geography, spatial planning and forestry for urban sprawl, housing, urban – forest interface, urban wild – interface etc. But I think the difference between the different English terms is that californisation also designs  the intermix of housing and extremely high inflammable forest (or bushformations like Garrigues, Maquis, Matoral, Chaparal etc. ) and high fuel loading[11].

However what term you use, I prefer californisation, because I think it describes the landscape scenery we can see in many Mediterranean regions of the world perfectly. People want to live like “Californians” constructing their house into a “green scenery” of forests & parks, like in Santa Barbara in California. In fire prone ecosystems, and all Mediterranean ecosystems are fire prone ecosystems, housing in such scenery is just like living on “powder – keg”. A forest fire occurring in this environment is a deadly trap for people, – and this exactly happened in Mati[12]. And what happened in Mati can happen in the suburbs of Lisbon, in the suburbs of Barcelona, Nîmes, Montpellier, Marseille, in La Marsa near Tunis ,- or in California or in Australia (even in the Mediterranean part of Chile and in the Cap region in South Africa). Working since the beginning of the 1990 in western European Mediterranean basin, I known so many locations in this area, where catastrophes like these which devasted Mati in Greece could also happen.

The combination of the consequences of climate change with the cocktail of californisation & rural abandonment will provide us more deadly fires in the Mediterranean regions of Europe (and perhaps also in Central Europe, Scandinavia etc.) – and I think society should react and force the governments to adapt their spatial planning to this enforced risk to see deadly forest fires spread up in that environment, to avoid situations that can lead to such fatal forest fires scenarios as the 1949 Landes Forest Fire which was the most deadly single fire which ever happened in Europe[13]. Concerning the 2018 Attica wildfires, this was a run of different fires, according to informations I could get about the fire.

What happened in Greece in the Attica region in July 2018, what happened in Pedrógão Grande in June 2017, but also in October 2017 in Portugal, these are (or were) real “pyrotragedies” and I hope that the fire season, which is going on until the End of October (in European Mediterranean regions) will not provide us other “pyrotragedies” in the Mediterranean (or elsewhere).

But the real question is if the governments in Greece or in Portugal will learn something from these “pyrotragedies”? The 1949 Landes Forest Fire with is high dead toll of 82 people killed by the fire, – provide a real shock in France – and after this shock France has made an enormous effort of systematic planning and construction of system of “Defending Forest against Wildfire” – “Défense de la forêt contre les incendies (DFCI)[14]” – which is now considered being one of the most effective “Anti Forest Fire Defence System” of the world. Perhaps someone should write down the history of the establishment of the French anti forest fire defense system, – as I know this has never been done – because this was not only success story, but the French responsible were able to learn from their different “failures”[15]– and that is very important.

In this context also associations, like the “Forêt Méditerranéenne”, have a very important role, – just remembering all the conferences dedicated to “fire prevention & wild fire management” and also all the articles dealing with forest fire published in the revue  “Forêt Méditerranéenne”[16]. Articles published in this revue are read by the people working in the forests, – the technicians, the forest engineer in direct contact, at the “frontline” with the “wildfires”. But even this relatively effective system of forest fire management, which has been established in France, is now challenged by “climate change” as recently Thomas Curt and Thibaut Frejaville showed in a study about “Wildfire Policy in Mediterranean France”[17].

My personal opinion is that science and research cannot alone provide the solution, at least perhaps applied geography and spatial planning, because it is a societal problem – how do we deal with californisation (urban sprawl, forest & urban interface, whatever you call it) in a highly inflammable environment – environment which also has a notable charge of fuel loading.  How can we manage this highly inflammable environment including climate change processes. It seems to be very difficult to find consistent solutions for that mix of problems. I personally, after working more or less since the beginning 1990s with forest fire risks, I have not “the solution”- but at least we should be honest to people living in this environment, to tell them, that they are living on a “powder – keg”. If there are no evacuation plans (and evacuation has to be trained), if fire brigades are not well trained and have a good equipment living & housing in such a fire prone environment can become very rapidly a  deadly trap if a fire outbreak is not under control very very fast.  Very very fast means to control the fire 30 minutes after outbreak, – after that threshold of 30 minutes it’s a very hard task to avoid the fire to run out of control and evolve into a large deadly fire event.

Concerning climate change, – I guess, that what I described here for Mediterranean regions, –  we will have to face such scenarios also in Central Europe – because the californisation of landscape is also existing in Central Europe, – the intermix of vegetation with housing – and if climate change scenarios provided by climatologists are correct we will also be confronted with an higher risk of fire eclosion in Central Europe.

And what about climate change and fire risks in old world Mediterranean basin? I think it is very difficult to prove that climate change is responsible for the current fire situation in summer 2018 – or for the 2017 fires in Portugal or the Maghreb[18] – but after all the paper I have read for my profession and also my own research work[19], I am convinced that climate change will make future wild fires more dangerous for people in the Mediterranean regions all over the world in the coming years.

Christophe Neff, Grünstadt 07.08.2018

P.S.: This blogpost is a revised and augmented version of a facebook post called “some words about the current forest fire situation in Greece” which I posted on Facebook on 25.07.2018.

[1] See also „Waldbrand in Fichtenwalde. Das Inferno nebenan“ on Spiegelonline.

[2] Original citation « No dia de 23 de julho o mundo foi surpreendido por mais uma pirotragédia, desta vez nos arredos de Atenas » ,  Paulo Fernandes, published in the « Jornal de Notícias » on Monday the 30 of July 2018.

[3] See also „Grèce : un ministre démissionne après les incendies meurtriers » in Le

[4] See „Incendie de Pedrógão Grande“ in, or „ Incêndio florestal de Pedrógão Grande em 2017” in

[5] In the blogpost „Feux de forêts et lectures de paysages méditerranéens: (Écologie et biogéographie des forêts du bassin méditerranéen ; The Nature of Mediterranean Europe – an Ecological History ; Le feu dans la nature – mythes et réalité) »,published in juin2009, I remembered that i was one the first scientists, warning that climate change could lead to in increase in Forest Fire risks in Central Europe.

[6] In the blogpost “ The Fatal Forest Fire – remembering the “1949 Mega fire” in the „Forêt des Landes” (South West France)”,published in July2009,  I wrote concerning the “1949 Landes forest fire”, that this fire event could be seen as a “historical model for expected forest fires due to global warming in non-mediterranean European forests”

[7] The results of the fire risk mapping were published as a litte book in 1995 in German “Waldbrandrisiken in den Garrigues de Nîmes (Südfrankreich) : eine geographische Analyse“ (ISBN 3-923750-50-1).

[8] Louis Trabaud was of the pioniers of Mediterranean Fire Ecology. He passed away in april 2017, – July Pausas has written a necrology on this personal blog – “Homage to Louis Trabaud”.

[9] Concerning Reiner Joha Bender see also “Blognotice 08.09.2014: Quatre jours de vacances à Leucate, de très petites vacances …. »

[10] See also „Blognotice 15.08.2015: Incendies de forêt à Schramberg en Forêt-Noire et processus de californisation du paysage »

[11] See also „Californisation“ in

[12] See also the video published by SPON, showing the devastated Mati after the fire event. The video was taken by an UAV.

[13] See also „The Fatal Forest Fire – remembering the “1949 Mega fire” in the „Forêt des Landes” (South West France)

[14] See also „Défense de la forêt contre les incendies » on, even if this article is very poor.

[15] For example see  the special number of the revue forestière francaise dedicated to the fire year 1975 “RFF – SPECIAL – Les incendies de forêts – 1975 ( or in 1990  the special number “RFF – SPECIAL – Espaces forestiers… – 1990 ( of the same revue, entirely dedicated to forest fire management.

[16] Just to name two examples – in  1990 the French Mediterranean Forests were heavily affected by forest fires, especially the “Massif de Maures” had hard price to pay in this“wildfireseason”. Thus the “Forêt Méditerranéenne” dedicated special numbers of their revue “Incendies & Pin d’Alep T. XIII, n°3, 1992 (Forest fire and Aleppo Pine) and  “Feux et forêts  – Les feux de forêt et la sécheresse en 1990 T. XIII, n°1, 1992 (Fire and Forest – the forest fires and the drought of 1990) to this crucial fire year. Not only to understand what really happened on the terrain during the fire events – but also to improve “prevention”, “forest management” and “Fire defense”.

[17] See „Curt, T. & Frejaville, T: Wildfire Policy in Mediterranean France: How Far is it Efficient and Sustainable?” in “Risk       Analysis ·July 2017 DOI: 10.1111/risa.12855”

[18] See also: Blognotice 14.08.2017: Sècheresse, canicule et feux de forêts – au Maghreb aussi !

[19] Together with some colleagues we analyzed forest fire risks and climate change scenarios and the consequences for Tunisian ecosystems, see :  Neff, C., Aloui, A., El Hamrouni, A., Souissi, A., Grossmann, A. (2007): Ecosystèmes. S. 33–43. In: République Tunisienne, Ministère de l’agriculture et des ressources hydrauliques, GTZ (Coopération technique allemande) (Hrsg.): Stratégie nationale d’adaptation de l’agriculture tunisienne et des écosystèmes aux changements climatiques, Cahier 7, Rapport des groupes d’ experts.

Paysages forecast for Nobel Prize in Literature 2017

Next Thursday, 5 October, at 13:00 CET the Swedish Academy will announce the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2017. And as every year since I edit paysages on le I am trying to forecast the winner (see (see here: 1, 2, 3, 4 , 5, 6, 7, 8). Indeed following the Dylan-Disaster” as Michael A. Orthofer wrote it in one of his last notices in the Literary saloon, this seems to be a very difficult task. Or following Pierre Assouline in his last billet in the Républic de livres, it could be “Haruki Murakami, Claudio Magris, Charles Aznavour, Antonio Munoz Molina, Margaret Atwood, Paul Mc Cartney, Salman Rushdie, Françis Cabrel and to complete this list, why not Claude Moine alias Eddy Mitchell the French song-writer. But after all entering in the “Bibliothèque de la Pléiade” as a living author, as it is currently the case for Philip Roth, is perhaps a more notable event than being a laureate of the nobel in literature[1].  My personal favorite for this year laureate of the Nobel Price in Literature is Claudio Magris, –  and I recently discovered traces of his works when reading Matthias Enardsla Boussole[2]”. Perhaps in some  years if Matthias Enard continues to deliver us such fabulous narrations as his did in “la Boussole” perhaps he could also be considered as “nobelisable”  to use this old fashioned French word. Following Claudio Magris my favorites are Adonis, António Lobo Antunes, Ismail Kadare and perhaps Margaret Atwood or Don DeLillo. Perhaps I should also add Art Spiegelman to this extended list of potential winner of the Nobel in Literature 2017. M.A Orthofer sees Mahmoud Dowlatabadi as “dark horses” “ major but relatively unknown author and worthy winner”. The Ladbrokes odds currently (03.10.2017 14:00) puts   Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (4:1), as a potential winner for the price, followed by Haruki Murakami (5/1) on the second position, and Margaret Atwood (6/1) on the third position.

Christophe Neff, 03.10.2017

P.S. (05.10.2017 13:20): The Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 was awarded to Kazuo Ishiguro.

[1] Pierre Assouline has dedicated his last notice in the République des livres to the entrance or Philip Roth in “Bibliothèque de la Pléiade” under the title “Les illusions de grandeur de Philip Roth”.

[2] “Compass”, translated by Charlotte Mandell, New Directions Publishing, 2017;

Paysages forecast for Nobel Prize in Literature 2016

Tomorrow, at 1.00 pm Stockholm time, the winner of this year Nobel Prize in Literature will be announced. As every year, paysages (see here: 1, 2, 3, 4 , 5, 6, 7) tries to forecast the winner, or authors which seem to have good chances to get the Nobel Prize in Literature. M.A. Orthofer has published a list of potential winners in the Literary Saloon, – his favorite is certainly Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, followed by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi, Jon Fosse and Juan Goytisolo. The Ladbrokes odds currently (12.10.2016 13:45) puts Ngugi Wa Thiong’o  (4:1), as a potential winner for the price, followed by Haruki Murakami (5/1) on the second position and  Adonis (6/1) on the third position. My personal favorite for this year Nobel Prize in Literature is Adonis, – followed by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Ismail KadarePéter Nádas and perhaps Peter Handke, Maryse Condé, Mircea Cărtărescu, David Malouf  or Don DeLillo.

In some hours we will know the happy winner of Nobel Prize in Literature 2016, and how precise the paysages forecast for the Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 has really been ….

Christophe Neff, le 12.10.2016

P.S.(16:30 12.10.2016): Perhaps I should also add Chico Buarque to my longer list.

P.S.(13.10.2016 14:20): The Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 was awarded to Bob Dylan. For me ths is a  very surprising choice. But not only for me, as this citation from the article Sewell Chan dedicated to this surprising event shows:  The announcement, in Stockholm, came as something of a surprise. Although Mr. Dylan, 75, has been mentioned often as having an outside shot at the prize, his work does not fit into the literary canons of novels, poetry and short stories that the prize has traditionally recognized. (Bob Dylan Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature, NYT SEWELL CHAN OCT. 13, 2016)

Du déjà vu en pire – Alep, Grozny, Beslan / a feeling of “déjà vu » in worse … Aleppo, Grozny, Beslan …. (27.09.2016)

Les images, les témoignages qui nous parviennent d’Alep et d’autres villes syriennes meurtries, villes  martyrisées par des années de guerre civiles sanglantes, me font ressurgir les images de Grozny, les reportages de Natalie Nougayrède de Beslan, de Tchétchénie. La Préface d’André Glucksmann du livre « Tchétchénie le déshonneur russe » de Anna Politkovskaïa . Du déjà vu en pire … Alep, Grozny, Beslan ….

The images, the reports reaching us from Aleppo and other Syrian cities ravaged, cities tormented by years of bloody civil war, make me reappear the images of Grozny, the reports written by Natalie Nougayrède from Beslan, from Chechnya. The Preface of André Glucksmann’s of the book „Tchétchénie, le déshonneur russe (Chechnya Russian dishonour)“ written by Anna Politkovskaya. A feeling of “déjà vu » in worse … Aleppo, Grozny, Beslan ….

Référence :

Glucksmann, André (2003) : Le syndrome du chardon tchétchène. In : Politkovskaïa, Anna : Tchétchénie, le déshonneur russe, p. 9- 18, Paris, collection folio, ISBN 2-07-030551-1

Christophe Neff (27.09.2016)

Her name was Ruqia/ Elle s’appelait Ruqia ….

Mandelbaumblüte (Prunus amygdalo-persica (West) Rehd.) 07.02.2016 bei Herxheim am Berg
Bloming Almond tree (Prunus amygdalo-persica (West) Rehd.) 07.02.2016 near Herxheim am Berg (Germany)

« Elle s’appelait Ruqia » – her name was Ruqia. That’s the beginning of a very notable commemorative address for Ruqia Hassan Mohammed, written by the French journalist Alain Frachon and published in the print edition of Le Monde of Friday the 5 February 2016. Ruqia Hassan was a citizen journalist who wrote under the nom de plume of Nissan Ibrahim about here daily life in Raqqa, which is currently ruled by the jihadists of the Islamic state. She was murdered[1] by Isis because she had the courage to witness daily live in Raqqa under the rule of jihadists[2] (the online version of the Alain Frachon text begins “Elle s’appelait Ruqia et racontait son quotidien sous la botte des djihadistes” Her name was Ruqia and she told us her daily live under the rule of the jihadists).

It’s dangerous to tell the truth about daily live in Syria   ….. in regions ruled by Bashar al-Assad  citizen journalists (as many other people) face torture and death – in regions ruled by jihadist’s it’s the same – citizen journalists (as many other people) face torture and death. The current geography of Syria is a map painted with the blood of innocent citizens, – a landscape of torture, murder, manslaughter …. a geography of beheading, crucifying, …. a desert of desperation, hunger and solitude.

When reading the memoir text of Alain Frachon I thought, – that the Le Monde should have had translated the text in English, – as they have done it in very rare occasions, as for example the report “Chemical warfare in Syria” in June 2013. So perhaps more people would know more about the tragic live of Ruqia, but also more people would know what the courageous citizen journalists of “Rakka is Being Silently Slaughtered” do – and for what they risk their live every day.

For copyright reasons it’s impossible to translate the full text of Alain Frachon report – but I think the last sentence of the memoir is worth to be completely translated “Peut-être y aura-t-il un jour une plaque, quelque part dans Rakka libérée, à la mémoire d’une jeune femme qui a défié les petites frappes de l’EI et qui portera ce nom : Ruqia Hassan Mohammed./ Perhaps one day, somewhere in Raqqa liberated, there will be a commemorative plaque, in honor of a young woman who challenged IS, – Ruqia Hassan Mohammed (free translation C.Neff).

Photo: © Christophe Neff 07.02.2016

Christophe Neff, Grünstadt the 07.02.2016

P.S.: Instead of posting of photo of Ruqia (you can find photos of her in the two articles of the Guardian I mentioned in the footnotes (1,2)) I preferred to post the picture of a blooming almond tree, which I photographed today in the vineyards of the Unterhardt between Freinsheim and Herxheim am Berg. The almond tree is in almost the whole Mediterranean world a symbol for the beginning of springtime.


Frachon, Alain (2016) : Elle s’appelait Ruqia et racontait son quotidien sous la botte des djihadistes. In Le Monde, Vendredi 5 Fevrier 2016, p. 19 (for le Monde subscribers download here).

[1] Aisha Gani and Kareem Shaheen : “Journalist Ruqia Hassan murdered by Isis after writing on life in Raqqa”, The Guardian, Tuesday 5 January 2016

[2] Homa Khaleeli, Aisha Gani Mona Mahmood and Mais al-Bayaa: Ruqia Hassan: the woman who was killed for telling the truth about Isi, The Guadian, Wednesday 20 January 2016