The Nobel Prize season starts Monday in Stockholm with the announcement of the new Medecine laureate. Chinese human rights activist Hu Jia and Chechen human rights lawyer Lidiya Yusupova are tipped to claim the prestigious 2008 Peace Prize.
The 2008 Nobel season opens Monday with the announcement of the Medicine Prize and runs through October 13, with Russian and Chinese human rights activists seen as top contenders for the prestigious Peace Prize.
The award committees never drop any hints about the winners in the run-up to the announcements, leaving observers to resort to frenzied speculation.
In recent decades Americans have tended to dominate the science prizes -- medicine, physics, chemistry and economics -- though last year Europeans prevailed.
For the Peace Prize, to be announced in Oslo on October 10, Chinese dissident Hu Jia and Chechen human rights lawyer Lidiya Yusupova are seen as strong possibilities, as 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee could choose to put the spotlight on China and its vow to improve human rights by giving the prize to Hu. Or it could honour Yusupova for her fight against Russia's human rights abuses in Chechnya, experts suggested.
Other possible winners are Vietnamese Buddhist monk and democracy activist Thich Quang Do, former French-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt and Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya.
Last year, the award went to former US vice president Al Gore and the UN climate change panel.
For the Literature Prize, to be announced on October 9, a string of names reappear each year as potential laureates. But French novelist Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio seemed to be the one on everyone's lips this year in Stockholm's literary circles.
Among other names circulating are South Korea's Ko Un, Peru's Mario Vargas Llosa, Americans Philip Roth and Joyce Carol Oates, Japan's Haruki Murakami, Italian Antonio Tabucchi, Israel's Amos Oz, Canada's Margaret Atwood and France's Yves Bonnefoy.
Online betting site Ladbrokes meanwhile has Italian essayist Claudio Magris as the frontrunner with 3-to-1 odds, the same as last year when British novelist Doris Lessing won the prize.
For Monday's Medicine Prize, fields that could be honoured this year include DNA fingerprinting, cancer research, or the discovery of the AIDS virus, while the Physics Prize could on Tuesday go to work on particle physics, observers suggested.
The chemistry committee has in recent years crowned discoveries with practical applications, so the 2008 laureates, to be announced on Wednesday, may have done research now used in the fields of information technology or the environment.
The Economics Prize announcement is due on October 13.
The current financial crisis is not expected to play a role in the prize committee's deliberations this year, but it could affect future choices.
One of the economic doctrines most often prized by the committee -- market liberalism -- is being blamed by many for today's woes and observers say the committee may in future turn the spotlight on macroeconomic stabilisation theories or new chaos theories.
The Nobel Prizes, founded by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, were first awarded in 1901.
Laureates receive 10 million Swedish kronor (1.42 million dollars, 1.02 million euros) which can be split between up to three winners per prize.
Date created : 2008-10-06