The Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to Louise Glück, the American poet, “for her unmistakable poetic voice that makes individual existence universal with austere beauty”.
The award was announced Thursday at a press conference in Stockholm.
Glück is the first poet to win the award from Wislawa Szymborska, a Polish writer, in 1996. Other poets to have received the award include Seamus Heaney, the Irish poet, who won in 1995. She is the first American to win since Bob Dylan in 2016.
Her 12 collections include “The Wild Iris”
The Nobel Prizes 2020
Updated on 6 October 2020
Last year, the academy came under criticism after awarding the award to Peter Handke, an Austrian author and playwright who was accused of genocide denial for questioning events during the 1990s Balkan Wars – including the Srebrenica massacre, in which some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were murdered.
That fury came a year after the academy the 2018 award was postponed due to a scandal involving the husband of an academy member accused of sexual misconduct and disclosure of information to bookmakers. That man, Jean-Claude Arnault, was subsequently sentenced to two years in prison for rape.
These events marked a low point for the award, which dates back to 1901 and was awarded to some of the most influential and revered novelists, poets and playwrights in the world. Prominent past winners include Toni Morrison, Kazuo Ishiguro, Alice Munro, Gabriel García Márquez, Saul Bellow, and Albert Camus. In 1964, the academy chose Jean-Paul Sartre, who turned down the honor, saying writers should not accept awards.
Given the recent controversies, many observers expected this year’s award to go to an undisputed choice. “The Swedish Academy knows it cannot afford another scandal,” Bjorn Wiman, the cultural editor of the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, said in a telephone interview prior to the announcement.
On Wednesday, however, an awards committee advisor denied this in an email. “We didn’t focus on making a ‘safe’ choice nor did we discuss the choice in those terms,” said Rebecka Karde, journalist and one of three outside experts who helped pick this year’s winner. “It’s all a question of the quality of the result of the writer who gets it.”
The Nobel Prize in Literature, awarded to a writer’s entire body of work and is considered perhaps the most prestigious literary prize in the world, comes with a prize of 10 million Swedish crowns, or approximately 1.1 million dollars.
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