The judges, apparently, could not help themselves.
Just two days after a Nobel Prize official worried the literature committee was too "Eurocentric," the winner for 2009 was Herta Mueller, a Romanian-born writer once censored in her native country.
It's no conspiracy, said permanent secretary Peter Englund. It's more geography.
"If you are European (it is) easier to relate to European literature," Englund told the Associated Press after the prize was announced Thursday. "It's the result of psychological bias that we really try to be aware of. It's not the result of any program."
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Mueller, whose Nobel was seen as a nod to the 20th anniversary of communism's collapse, was persecuted in her native Romania for her critical depiction of life behind the Iron Curtain.
She was cited by the committee for "the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose" in such novels as "The Land of Green Plums," which describe "the landscape of the dispossessed." Beyond the judges' praise, she will receive $1.4 million in prize money.
Mueller, 56, had to smuggle her early work to Germany to get it published and moved there in 1987. Her latest novel, "Atemschaukel," or "Swinging Breath," is up for this year's German Book Prize, to be announced Monday.
Like last year's Nobel laureate, Jean-Marie Gustave le Clezio of France, little of Mueller's work is available in English translation, although various publishers say they plan reissues.
Writers from all over the world have won Nobels in the prize's 108-year history, but European-based authors, whether natives or emigrants, have had a virtual monopoly in recent years — a trend the committee has defended, apologized for and perpetuated.