Author and recent Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing is famously cranky and outspoken. She says what she wants! (She doesn't give a damn about the Nobel or any other prize. See?) She's 88 and, as Time explains in their interview with her, she "refuses to play the role of Britain's elder literary stateswoman." Example: "I hear girls saying, 'Oh I'm not going to bring a child into this wicked world,' which means they are going to be pregnant next week."

More of Lessing's wit and wisdom:

On why she didn't care about winning the Nobel Prize: "If I may be catty, Sweden doesn't have anything else. There's not a great literary tradition, so they make the most of the Nobel."

On writing: Lessing says her most recent book, Afred and Emily, will be her last: "I haven't got the energy to write now. I used to have so much energy I didn't know what to do with it, but now it just runs away from me." She's warned young writers before, "Don't assume you'll have it forever. Use it while you've got it, because it'll go; it's sliding away like water down a plug hole."

On Mugabe's corrupt Zimbabwe—will she visit again? "Good God no. It's ruined. Under the whites it was an extremely efficient country. It could grow absolutely anything. We had railways and post offices and roads and water that worked. You can't just put that back overnight."

Um, whoops. OK, she's usually right—and in her words, not the "soul of tact." (And not racist—she was barred from South African and Rhodesia for denouncing apartheid.)