Earlier this year, the Britain-based global betting and gaming company Ladbrokes predicted at one point that Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami’s chances at winning the Nobel for literature were at 4-to-1. Nobel history was made since, with American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan’s eventual victory.

But Murakami fans also have some heartening news this week.

The best-selling author of books such as Norwegian Wood and Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage won the Hans Christian Anderson Literature Award, a relatively new literary honour. The honour, named after the Danish author best remembered for his fairytales like Thumblelina, The Emperor’s New Clothes and The Little Mermaid, was formally established only in 2010, but is being given out as an award since 2007, when Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist) was given the prize.

The first formal winner of the award was, however, author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling. Other winners also include Salman Rushdie, author of works like Haroun and the Sea of Stories and Midnight’s Children.

“Haruki Murakami’s imaginative prose embodies a global view and a narrative zest that has parallels in the writing of Hans Christian Andersen. Murakami’s capacity to boldly mix classic narrative art, pop culture, Japanese tradition, dreamlike realism and philosophical discussion makes him a fitting heir to the Andersen legacy," said the official statement.

Upon receiving the award from Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, the Japanese author whose books have been translated into about 50 languages worldwide, gave an acceptance speech in English titled The Meaning of Shadows, a reference to Hans Christian Anderson’s 1847 fairytale The Shadow. The latter is a dark story about a scholar whose shadow lays claim on him, eventually killing the man. Murakami used this reference in his larger, abstract speech to make a point—that people and countries ought to “patiently learn to live together with your shadows…It is a necessary thing to do, because if you don’t, before long your shadow will grow ever stronger and will return…" he said.

The Hans Christian Andersen Literary Award is not to be confused with the Hans Christian Andersen Award (or medal)— often regarded as the “Little Nobel Prize"— instituted in 1956 to recognize lasting contributions in the field of children’s literature. The 2016 winner of this award is Chinese children’s author Cao Wenxuan whose works has been translated into English, Korean, French, and Japanese.

Along with the honour and monetary prize of 500,000 DKK (around 49,14,469), Murakami will receive also a bronze sculpture of Ugly Duckling, the now popular 1843 protagonist from Andersen’s fairytale of the same name, made by Danish sculptor Stine Ring Hansen.

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