I chuckled at that FT headline, fortunately the on-line version names Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke in its header.
Can you imagine a sports header: “Big name wins NBA most valuable player award.” No, they would name the “big name” because that big name is in fact big.
I still think Stephen King should get one. I didn’t enjoy trying to read Tokarczuk, though I suspect she is a very good writer in Polish. By Handke I can recommend his Sorrow of Dreams, a memoir of his mother dying, and also a book that influenced Knausgaard. But mostly I am find him boring, pessimistic, and nasty, perhaps consistent with his support for Milosevic and the tyranny in Serbia. I don’t think that disqualifies him from the prize per se, but neither do I see him as an author who had to win, though he is indeed “a big name in European writing.” The thing is, he is nothing more than that.
Here you can buy The Stand for $8.30, by the way I love Houllebecq but the new one isn’t very interesting, as sadly it reads like a parody of his earlier, superior work. Submission remains one of the truly great novels of recent times.