Austrian author Peter Handke and Poland’s Olga Tokarczuk were awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on 10 October 2019. The Swedish Academy named Mr. Handke the laureate for 2019 and Ms. Tokarczuk for 2018 after postponing last year’s award due to a protracted scandal.
- The academy said it honored Mr. Handke “for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience.” Since his debut novel, “Die Hornissen,” was published in 1966, he has established himself as one of Europe’s most influential postwar writers.
- Ms. Tokarczuk, whose novels include “Primeval and Other Times” and “The Books of Jacob,” has displayed a “narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life”..
- The panel at the Swedish Academy that judges the Nobel literature prize has undergone a sweeping revamp in the past year following sexual assaults involving Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of a former member of the academy and a prominent figure in cultural circles in Sweden. Mr. Arnault in late 2018 was convicted of two rapes dating to 2011.
- Mr. Arnault’s wife, poet Katarina Frostenson, sat on the academy’s judging panel and it later transpired that it academy provided funding for her husband’s cultural center.
- The funding quickly stopped after the abuse allegations came to light, but three jury members quit after an investigation found that she, too, had improperly benefited from the academy’s financial support.
- Several other members, including Ms. Frostenson, subsequently left the academy, forcing it to suspend judging for the award for the first time since World War II.
- It brought in five external members to help judge the prizes and restore its credibility, putting the academy back on track by awarding prizes for both 2018 and 2019 this year.