The 2011 award, announced this morning, went to Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer, 80. Like many winners, Transtromer had been rumored for years as the likely laureate. Reportedly, Swedish journalists had taken to camping out in front of his home on the morning the awards were to be announced, year after year, hoping for the first interview.
While the prizes for chemistry, physics, medicine and economics typically are non-controversial, because so few people are knowledgeable enough to judge the worthiness thereof, the Nobels for literature and peace always generate a lot of backlash, trash talk and grumbling. Anybody can have an opinion about what they read (or don't read) and about what constitutes "peace."
Doubtless the speculation about 2012 has already begun. (Margaret Atwood, anyone?) In the meantime, settle back with some of Transtromer's lovely, ethereal poems – several are available at poetryfoundation.org – such as "After Death": "It is still beautiful to feel the heart beat / but often the shadow seems more real than the body."