Written by Talent KAS

Related Topics: Awards & Honours, Literature


  • Polish novelist Olga Tokarczuk and Austrian author Peter Handke have won the 2018 and 2019 Nobel Prizes for literature.
  • Both winners will receive a full cash prize, valued at 9-million kronor ($918,000), a gold medal and a diploma.

The Nobel Winners

Peter Handke (2019)

  • The Swedish Academy praised Mr. Handke’s work for exploring “the periphery and the specificity of human experience” with linguistic ingenuity.
  • Beginning with The Hornets in 1966, he made his name with works that combine introspection and a provocative streak.
  • One early play was called Offending the Audience and featured actors insulting theatregoers.

Olga Tokarczuk (2018)

  • She was chosen by the Swedish Academy for works that explore the “crossing of boundaries as a form of life”.
  • She is one of Poland’s best-known authors, known for her humanist themes and playful, subversive streak.
  • She won the Booker International Prize in 2018 for Flights, which combines tales of modern-day travel with the story of a 17th-century anatomist who dissected his own amputated leg and the journey of composer Frederic Chopin’s heart from Paris to Warsaw after his death.
  • She is only the 15th woman to win the Nobel literature prize in more than a century.

Why Literature Nobel Prize was not announced in 2018?

  • The rare double announcement came after no literature prize was awarded in 2018 due to sex abuse allegations that tarnished the Swedish Academy, the group that awards the Nobel Prize for Literature.
  • The Academy has made changes to improve transparency.
  • The 2018 and 2019 awards were chosen by the Swedish Academy’s Nobel Committee, a new body made up of four academy members and five “external specialists”.

Controversies around 2019 Literature Nobel

  • Nobel Prize for Literature 2019 was awarded by Swedish Academy to Peter Handke “for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience.”
  • According to critics, Handke’s choice is controversial because of his Serbia-as-victim stance in the Balkan war and for attending the funeral of former Serbian President Slobodan Milošević.
  • Under Milosevic’s regime, thousands of ethnic Albanians were killed and at least a million had to flee.
  • The Serbian president was indicted for war crimes in 1999 but died in 2006 before a ruling was reached.
  • In a 1996 essay, Justice for Serbia, he accused Western media of depicting Serbs as aggressors in the wars that led to the breakup of Yugoslavia.
  • He was an opponent of NATO’s air strikes against Serbia for that country’s violent crackdown in Kosovo in the late 1990s.
[Source: The Hindu]


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