Published: 10th October 2019
Olga Tokarczuk awarded Nobel Prize in Literature for 2018 a year late, Peter Handke wins 2019 prize
The Nobel Prize in Literature is one of five international prizes instituted by the will of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish businessman, chemist, engineer and philanthropist
The 2018 Nobel Prize was awarded to Polish author Olga Tokarczuk, while the 2019 prize was awarded to Austrian Peter Handke, the Swedish Academy said Thursday.
"The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2018 is awarded to the Polish author Olga Tokarczuk for a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life," the academy said in a statement.
For this year's award, they chose Austrian author Peter Handke "for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience", added the statement.
The 2018 winner was not announced last year due to controversy concerning the board.
At the centre of the scandal was Jean-Claude Arnault, a Swedish photographer who was accused of sexual assault by over a dozen women — allegations were made in late 2017, at the height of the Me Too movement. He was convicted of rape and sentenced to over two years in prison. Arnault connection to the Nobel is deep. He is married to Katarina Frostenson, who was until last year a member of the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize in Literature.
What further deepened the scandal were allegations that the Swedish Academy had funded an art club run by Arnault and his wife Frostenson and charges that Arnault may have been involved in leaking names of the winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature.
These allegations rocked the Swedish Academy and led the resignations of several members, including Katarina Frostenson. The scandal and the resulting infighting in the Academy ultimately forced the institution to cancel the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature.
The Academy then began a process of reconstituting its committee and making changes to the process of selecting Nobel laureates. The Nobel Prize in Literature is one of five international prizes instituted by the will of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish businessman, chemist, engineer and philanthropist.
The other awards include the Nobel Prize in Physiology, the Nobel Prize in Physics, the Noble Prize in Chemistry and the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1968, the Swedish central bank set up the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, which is widely referred to as the Nobel Prize in Economics. Since economics was not one of the fields for which Alfred Nobel's will instituted an award, it is not technically a Nobel Prize.
The Nobel Prizes are awarded by premier Swedish institutions. The Chemistry, Physics and Economic Sciences Nobel prizes are awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine while the Swedish Academy decides the Nobel Prize in Literature. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
The Nobel prizes are among the most celebrated international awards. The prizes come along with monetary grants (which change every year depending on the funding made available by the Nobel Foundation) and international honour.