Polish author Olga Tokarczuk and Austria’s Peter Handke have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Two winners were named – one for 2019 and one for 2018 – because the prize was not awarded last year.
The Swedish Academy, which oversees the prestigious award, suspended it in 2018 after a sexual assault scandal.
Tokarczuk, who also won the Man Booker International Prize last year, was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize, with this year’s Nobel going to Handke.
The 76-year-old Austrian playwright, novelist and poet was recognised for “an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience”, the academy said in a statement.
However, he has been a highly controversial figure for his support for the Serbs during the 1990s Yugoslav war, and for speaking at the 2006 funeral of former Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic, who was accused of genocide and other war crimes.
PEN America said it was “dumbfounded by the selection of a writer who has used his public voice to undercut historical truth”, in a statement from its president, Jennifer Egan.
In 2014, Handke even called for the Nobel Prize for Literature to be abolished, saying it brings its winner “false canonisation” along with “one moment of attention [and] six pages in the newspaper”.
Both laureates have agreed to receive their awards this year, however, organisers said. Each will receive nine million Swedish kronor (£740,000), as well as a medal and a diploma.
The 2018 Nobel Prize was delayed by a year after a crisis in the academy sparked by allegations against Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of Academy member Katarina Frostenson. He was sentenced to two years in prison in October after being convicted of rape.
Frostenson stepped down, and the events also led to allegations of conflict of interest and the leaking of Nobel winners’ names. It all resulted in “reduced public confidence in the Academy”, according to the awards body.
Source : BBC