I think it’s unfortunately true that Roth is the likeliest American to win next, but I don’t think he’s worthy (like Buck, Steinbeck*, and Hemingway, in the list above). He’s just the most politically expedient. And I agree wholeheartedly that Flannery O’Connor should have received the award; I personally categorize her as a Nobel winner, because I have no doubt that if she’d live long enough she’d have been so honored.
I think Paul Auster’s career should eventually lead to a Nobel. Other than him, I don’t think there’s a single U.S. writer, at least whom I’m familiar with, who even smells like Nobel material. And personally, I’ll lose a great deal of respect for the Prize if Pynchon or DeLillo wins it.
On the other hand, I think the Nobel prize for literature should take filmmakers into account, certainly since it considers playwrights. I think Tarkovsky’s films are ever bit as important as any Nobel laureate’s, ditto Dreyer, Bergman, etc. Unfortunately most of the century’s Nobel-worthy filmmakers are dead, but I think they should be considered in the future.
The only American filmmakers, IMHO, who even show Nobel-level potential, are Todd Haynes and Todd Solondz.
(And I’m shocked nearly to the point of disgust to see Cormac McCarthy’s name even mentioned in this thread: not only non-Americans think he’s overrated, Rainbow.)
*Though I agree that Tortilla Flat and Cannery Row are timelessly brilliant.