Two Nobel Prizes in Literature awarded after sex scandal rocked Academy

Carla Harmon
October 10, 2019

With this, the academy has now given away 112 Nobel Prizes in Literature to 116 individuals - the honour was shared between two persons on four occasions.

Tokarczuk was the 15th woman to have won the Nobel Prize in Literature, compared to 114 men.

Tokarczuk, who also won the Man Booker International Prize previous year for her novel Flights, won for her "narrative imagination that with encyclopaedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life".

The 76-year-old established himself as one of the most influential writers in Europe after World War II, the Academy said, with a body of work that contains novels, essays, notebooks and dramatic works.

(L) Olga Tokarczuk. Photo via Facebook/@OlgaTokarczukProfil.

Even before the scandal, the Academy had courted controversy in 2016 when it gave the prestigious prize to United States singer songwriter Bob Dylan, leading some to question its judgement.


The 2019 Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to Austrian author Peter Handke, while the 2018 award, postponed from previous year, was given to Polish author Olga Tokarczuk.

The couple ran a cultural club in Stockholm that was part-funded by the academy, and several of the assaults committed by Arnault - who is now serving a prison sentence for rape - took place in academy-owned properties.

The naming of at least one woman literature laureate was widely expected after the Swedish Academy, which chooses the victor, was thrown into crisis in November 2017 after 18 women came forward with accusations of sexual assault against then-member Katarina Frostenson's husband.

He described Handke's tone as "unfussy and unique", and said that "we have a lot to thank Peter Handke for".

"Controversy is a natural effect of the Literature Prize", said Mats Malm, the Swedish Academy's new permanent secretary, appointed to head a reformed 18-person panel after two years of convulsions at the prestigious institution.

The announcement that the 2018 Nobel Prize in literature has been awarded to Polish author Olga Tokarczuk provides a morale boost to liberal-minded Poles only three days before a nationalist populist party taking the country down an illiberal path seems headed for re-election.


The last Pole to win the Nobel literature prize was poet Wislawa Szymborska in 1996.

We're at the Swedish Academy's headquarters, where classical music is being played while global media sit and wait.

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature was postponed for a year due to the sexual harassment scandal that shook the Swedish Academy.

Nobel fame this year comes with a 9-million kronor ($ 918,000) cash award, a gold medal and a diploma. A graduate of the University of Kent and the University of East Anglia, he added the Nobel Prize to his list of accomplishments in 2017.

Nobel decided the physics, chemistry and medicine should be awarded in Stockholm, and the peace prize in Oslo.


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