On Not Winning the Nobel Prize

If you’re looking for literary and creative inspiration, you should check out Dorris Lessing’s acceptance speech for her recently won Nobel prize for literature.

In her essay, she speaks of the marked loss in the appreciation for reading and the ever-fragmenting culture of those who read and those who find their entertainment on their (TV, movie, computer) screen. Being an impassioned reader, it’s hard to imagine a world where children aren’t inspired to read, or worse, can not find the books they want.

Lessing wrote:

I have a friend from Zimbabwe. A writer. Black – and that is to the point. He taught himself to read from the labels on jam jars, the labels on preserved fruit cans. He was brought up in an area I have driven through, an area for rural blacks. The earth is grit and gravel, there are low sparse bushes. The huts are poor, nothing like the good cared-for huts of the better off… He found a discarded children’s encyclopedia on a rubbish heap and learned from it.

I say a little thank you every time I walk to my local library just blocks from my house and borrow a tall stack of books. I really do know how lucky I am having access to a library system so flush with books. I’d never be able to pay my rent if I bought every book that I read. I’m abundantly glad I’m not in the position of having to choose between a roof over my head or a book in my hand.

Lessing is most certainly right when she says none of us would write if the only words to be found were printed on the containers of food stacked intermittently on the shelves at the market.

Just as food is important to fulfillment, so are precious words.


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Food Woolf Written by:

Brooke Burton is an Los Angeles-based restaurant professional and hospitality expert. She is a freelance food writer, speaker, and co-author of The Food Blog Code of Ethics.

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