The biggest surprise by far was the award of the peace prize to Barack Obama "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples". The nomination process for the Nobel peace prize is described here, but here's the relevant excerpt about the deadline for submission of nominations:
The Committee bases its assessment on nominations that must be postmarked no later than 1 February each year. Nominations postmarked and received after this date are included in the following year's discussions. In recent years, the Committee has received close to 200 different nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. The number of nominating letters is much higher, as many are for the same candidates. [Emphasis added]
Barack Obama took the oath of office on 20 January 2009, 12 days before the submission deadline. The citation could not have possibly have been referring to these 12 days, which raised the question of what exactly Mr. Obama's nominators nominated him for.
The literature prize, again, went to an obscure writer nobody had heard of before last week.