Nobel Prize in literature 2018 cancelled after sexual assault scandal
Copenhagen: The Nobel Prize in literature will be not awarded this year following sex-abuse allegations and other issues within the ranks of the Swedish Academy that selects the winner.
The academy said Friday the 2018 prize will be given in 2019. The decision was made at a weekly meeting in Stockholm a day earlier, on the grounds that the academy is in no shape to pick a winner after a string of sex abuse allegations and financial crimes scandals.
“We find it necessary to commit time to recovering public confidence in the Academy before the next laureate can be announced,” Anders Olsson, the academy’s permanent secretary, said in a statement. He said the academy was acting “out of respect for previous and future literature laureates, the Nobel Foundation and the general public.”
A statement released by the prestigious organisation further said it supports the Swedish Academy’s decision to postpone the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature.
The statement read, “The Swedish Academy has decided to postpone the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature, with the intention of awarding it in 2019. According to the Swedish Foundations Act, the Nobel Foundation is ultimately responsible for fulfilling the intentions in the will of Alfred Nobel. During the past several weeks, we have pursued a continuous dialogue with the Swedish Academy, and we support Thursday’s decision.”
The statement, by Carl-Henrik Heldin, Chairman of the Board of the Nobel Foundation, further read that one of the circumstances that may justify an exception is when a situation in a prize-awarding institution arises that is so serious that a prize decision will not be perceived as credible.
He further added, “The crisis in the Swedish Academy has adversely affected the Nobel Prize. Their decision underscores the seriousness of the situation and will help safeguard the long-term reputation of the Nobel Prize. None of this impacts the awarding of the 2018 Nobel Prizes in other prize categories.”
The Chairman’s statement also went on to add that the Nobel Foundation presumes that the Swedish Academy will now put all its efforts into the task of restoring its credibility as a prize-awarding institution and that the Academy will report the concrete actions that are undertaken. “We also assume that all members of the Academy realise that both its extensive reform efforts and its future organisational structure must be characterised by greater openness towards the outside world,” it read.
It will be the first time since wartime 1943 that the prestigious award is not handed out.
The Swedish Academy’s internal feud was triggered by an abuse scandal linked to Jean-Claude Arnault, a major cultural figure in Sweden who is also the husband of poet Katarina Frostenson, an academy member.
The academy later admitted that “unacceptable behavior in the form of unwanted intimacy” took place within its ranks, but its handling of unseemly allegations has shredded the body’s credibility, called into question its judgment and forced its first female leader to resign.
A debate over how to face up to its flaws also divided its 18 members – who are appointed for life – into hostile camps and prompted seven members of the prestigious institution to leave or disassociate themselves from the secretive group.