They announced the Nobel Literature Prize yesterday for Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish writer, and the Nobel Peace Prize for Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank for micro-finance. NYT articles on Pamuk and a summary of his work here, and the first AP article today on Yunus here, with certainly more to follow.
I have no quibbles with either prize: I think they're both well-deserved, timely, and trenchant choices by the Nobel Committee. It would be kind of nice if they could give an ironic 'booby Nobel' prize in war-mongering: I'm sure you will all have suggestions.
Pamuk is most recently and best-known for going on trial for 'insults to the Turkish state', or something as Orwellian-sounding as that, when he stated to a European newspaper that Turkey had never acknowledged the genocide of Armenians in 1915. This caused deserved but shrill outrage in the EU: I say deserved because this is clearly a litmus test for political expression, but I also say shrill because there are plenty of people in the EU and in its member countries who are looking for an excuse not to admit Turkey to the EU.
The work of Yunus and the Grameen Bank demonstrates a pragmatic and successful approach to development. The Grameen bank has now branched out into everything from cellphones to eye surgery. It also follows a nice and long Nobel trend of honoring non-state actors, who have pointed out, and done something about, issues of universal significance and moral urgency. You can see the complete list of Peace prize winners here.