French novelist Patrick Modiano poses for a photograph. Patrick Modiano of France has won the 2014 Nobel Prize for Literature.
AP—AP/Gallimard
By Lily Rothman
October 9, 2014

Patrick Modiano is probably feeling pretty good right now. It was announced Thursday morning that the French author had beat out bet-makers’ favorites like Haruki Murakami to become the latest winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

But that warm, fuzzy feeling may not last. As TIME reported back in 1998, the Nobel for literature has a mixed reputation — one that some would go so far as to call a curse. Even for those writers who receive the prize while still at the height of their careers, the burst of worldwide fame that it brings can actually contribute to a decrease in artistic output. As TIME explained:

But as for Modiano, he may have an edge when it comes to avoiding the curse. The BBC reports that the author has lots of practice staying away from the press and others who want a piece of his time and privacy — in fact, he’s so good at it that the Nobel Academy was unable to get the good news to him before the rest of the world found out too.

Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com.

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