I thought that this article might interest a few professionals on this list. The first two of the seven reasons were why an American didn't make the list and they struck me as something Eliot had mentioned: universiality and literature (or at least poetry) being a part-time job. The other five reasons would be more in the line of why we don't know foreign writers.
7 reasons why the Nobel Prize in literature went to a Belarusian you don't know
By Carolyn Kellogg
Los Angeles Times (TNS)
Here are 7 reasons why the latest Nobel Literature Laureate is not only not an American, but a writer you haven’t even heard of – Svetlana Alexievich, from Belarus.
1. American literature is “too isolated, too insular.” In 2008, then-Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy Horace Engdahl made headlines when he declared American literary culture “too isolated, too insular. They don’t translate enough and don’t really participate in the big dialogue of literature.” That year, the award went to French novelist Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, a writer with virtually no public profile in the United States.
2. American writers suffer from “professionalization.” Again Engdahl, still the Permanent Secretary, publicly stated his criticisms of the literary culture of America and the West. This time it was 2014, and he was speaking to a French newspaper. “Previously, writers would work as taxi drivers, clerks, secretaries and waiters to make a living. Samuel Beckett and many others lived like this. It was hard – but they fed themselves, from a literary perspective.” He decried the “professionalization” of literature in America and Europe through grants and other financial support.