The Swedish Academy has awarded this year's Nobel Prize in Literature to Doris Lessing, the Persian-born British author whose novels stand at the center of the feminist movement. The author of such classics as The Golden Notebook and The Good Terrorist did not figure among pundits' predictions for this year's winner. At 87, she becomes the oldest person ever to win the Nobel.
In the prize citation the Swedish Academy called her "that epicist of the female experience, who with skepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny." Today's decision makes her only the sixth woman in 40 years to win the Nobel. Lessing's most recent novel, 2006's The Cleft, imagined a society of semi-aquatic females who suddenly start giving birth to boys.