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Literary buzz was pointing to Africa for the Thursday's Nobel Literature Prize but there were no firm bets just hours before the 2010 winner was to be announced.
The Swedish Academy that awards the prize never reveals the nominees, leaving the door wide open for frenzied guessing right up to the announcement.
Most observers seem to agree that the prize will likely fall outside of Europe this year, with the continent have dominated the award in recent years including last year's win by German-language author Herta Mueller from Romania.
Literary circle insiders quoted by the Dagens Nyheter daily Thursday listed Australian poet Les Murray, Canadian short story writer Alice Munro, American music legend and poet Bob Dylan and American novelists Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy and Joyce Carol Oates among the favourites.
The paper also pointed out that Swedish Academy chief Peter Englund had written on his blog that he would wear grey to the ceremony.
"Grey? What can that mean? That the longtime favourite author Don DeLillo (of the Unite States) will get the prize, since he in his 1985 book White Noise introduced a Mr. Grey?" Dagens Nyheter culture writer Georg Cederskog speculated.
But a writer from Africa, hugely under-represented on the Nobel stage, is just as likely, according to the buzz in literary circles, with authors like Ngugi wa Thiong'o of Kenya and Somalian Nuruddin Farah figuring among the favourites.
There has been much talk that a poet could get the prize for the first time since Poland's Wislawa Szymborska won in 1996.
Algerian novelist and poet Assia Djebar figures among the favourites, with observers pointing out a woman laureate from Africa would make a refreshing change.
However, Djebar writes in French, which could put her at a disadvantage since Frenchman JMG Le Clezio won the prize just two years ago.
Other poets that have figured among the favourites for years are Adonis of Syria, Ko Un of South Korea and Tomas Transtroemer of Sweden.
In other genres, Canadian Margaret Atwood, Israeli Amos Oz, Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa and Japanese Haruki Murakami are among the usual suspects for the prize.
Jonas Axelsson, the chief literary editor at the Bonniers publishing house, is meanwhile expecting "a surprise again this year," and Maria Schottenius at Dagens Nyheter suggested that 33-year-old Finnish author Sofi Oksanen might get the prize.
Bookmakers were also having their say with Ladbrokes, who tipped the winner two years ago, handing the best odds to McCarthy, placing him ahead of Transtroemer and Thiong'o.
"Most players seem to be drawn between Africa and the United States," Joakim Roenngren, a Ladbrokes spokesman told the Svenska Dagbladet daily.
The unibet site meanwhile placed Paraguayan Nestor Amarilla in the lead, followed by Thiong'o and McCarthy in third.
The Literature Prize is the fourth and one of the most watched announcements this Nobel season, following the prizes for medicine, physics and chemistry earlier this week.
Next in line is the other big crowd-pleaser, the Peace Prize, which will be announced on Friday, while the Economics Prize will wrap up the Nobel season on Monday, October 11.
This year's laureates will receive 10 million Swedish kronor (1.49 million dollars, 1.09 million euros) which can be split between up to three winners per prize.
The Peace Prize will be handed out in Oslo on December 10, while the other Nobel laureates will pick up their prizes in Stockholm on the same day.
Last Updated (Monday, 11 October 2010 07:30)