"that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny"
They mentioned The Golden Notebook in particular in discussing the reason for the award.
Her sff works include the Canopus in Argos series, Mara and Dann and her most recent novel The Cleft.
Her website is here. There is information on her at Contemporary Writers, kirjasto.sci.fi and BBC World Service. Salon.com interviewed her in 1997.
The New York Times:
Ms. Lessing, who turns 88 later this month, never finished high school and largely educated herself through her voracious reading. She had been born to British parents in what is now Iran, was raised in colonial Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and now lives in London. She has written dozens of books of fiction, as well as plays, non-fiction and an autobiography. She is the 11th woman to win a Nobel Prize in literature.
NYT links page
New York Times
Science Fiction Awards Watch
Trufen #1, where they share the news of the award.
Trufen #2, where they share the author's reaction.
Trufen links to this story, which says in part:
Lessing, who turns 88 this month, is the oldest winner of the literature prize. Although she is widely celebrated for "The Golden Notebook" and other works, she has received little attention in recent years and has been criticized as strident and eccentric.
Asked repeatedly if she was excited about the award, she held court from her doorstep and noted she had been in the running for the Nobel for decades.
"I can't say I'm overwhelmed with surprise," Lessing said. "I'm 88 years old and they can't give the Nobel to someone who's dead, so I think they were probably thinking they'd probably better give it to me now before I've popped off."
I kinda like strident and eccentric, and I like the books that I've read by her. I got a kick out of that story.
Paste Magazine quotes an unappreciative Harold Bloom:
Many considered it a surprise decision, including Lessing herself, evidently. American literary critic Harold Bloom was particularly shocked by the announcement. He derided the academy's selection as "pure political correctness."
"Although Ms. Lessing at the beginning of her writing career had a few admirable qualities, I find her work for the past 15 years quite unreadable ... fourth-rate science fiction," Bloom told the Associated Press.
Alas, you can't please everyone.
Mumpsimus has some personal reflections.
Bill Moyers Journal
World Hum discusses Lessing's travel writing.