The explanatory memorandum mentions that Tranströmer was awarded the prize "“because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality”.
Despite being one of the the favourites according to the bookmakers, Tranströmer is seen as a surprising choice.
Photo: Andrei Romanenko
"It is never the point to amaze anyone and I hope we have made a good choice,” Peter Englund said to the public service broadcaster SVT.
Tomas Tranströmer has been nominated for the prize every year since 1993. According to Peter Englund, who called Tranströmer about ten minutes before the announcement, the Swedish poet sat and listened to music when he was informed about the prize.
"He is one of the world's greatest poets,” Englund told SVT.
Tomas Tranströmer was born in Stockholm on 15 April 1931. After publishing poems in a number of journals, Tranströmer published in 1954 17 dikter (17 poems) – one of the most acclaimed literary debuts of the decade.
According to the Swedish national encyclopaedia Nationalencyclopedin was Tranströmer’s style then already formed. "An intensely visionary poetry, full of precisely chiseled expressions, visually luminous metaphors, archaic mythical motives and experiences of a highly condensed life-feeling that may get a religious dimension," the encyclopedia writes.
With the following collections – Hemligheter på vägen (1958; Secrets along the way), Den halvfärdiga himlen (1962; The Half-Finished Heaven, 2001) and Klanger och spår (1966; see Windows & Stones : Selected Poems, 1972) – he consolidated his standing among critics and other readers as one of the leading poets of his generation.
The Swedish Writers' Union, where Tranströmer himself is a member, had a board meeting when the price was announced.
“We applauded so the windows rattled when it became clear,” Mats Söderlund, Chairman of the Association, said to the daily Svenska Dagbladet.
He says you can read anything by the winner.
“My personal favorite is Östersjöar (Baltics)”.
Tomas Tranströmer is the eighth Swede to receive the Nobel Price in Literature and the first since Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson in 1974.
The last time a Swede received the Nobel Prize was when Arvid Carlsson recieved the prize in medicine in 2000.