Nobel Prize in Literature 2019 goes to Austrian Peter Handke, while the 2018 award goes to Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk. This was announced by the Swedish Academy in Stockholm on Thursday.
The curious situation of two Nobel laureates in literature is due to a severe crisis of the Swedish Academy caused in 2018: Last year, the prize had not been awarded for the first time since 1901 – so there will be two awards in 2019.
Prize committee praised Olga Tokarczuk's "narrative imagination that represents crossing borders as a way of life with encyclopedic passion". Peter Handke was honored "for an influential body of work that explores with linguistic ingenuity the margins and particularity of human experience".
Olga Tokarczuk writes about "the terrible things" in the history of Poland
Olga Tokarczuks is one of the best-known Polish authors of her generation, campaigns against xenophobia and criticizes her native Poland.
Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk spent almost seven years writing her last novel. When it appeared, she hit the nerve of the time with it. Her historical novel "Ksiegi Jakubowe" ("The Books of Jacob" 2014) is highly topical in view of the migration crisis, critics praise the work about the multicultural history of today's Catholic Poland.
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The 57-year-old once said she wanted to rewrite the history of her country without hiding "the terrible things". Poland presents itself as a tolerant and open country, says the studied psychologist. "But we have done terrible things".
Texts by the Nobel Prize winner are set in the realm between myth and reality
For about 30 years, the writer, who was born in Sulechow near Zielona Gora (Grunberg), has published poems, novels and stories. Their works often take readers into a realm between myth and reality.
In 2015, she was honored with the Bridge Prize of the European City of Gorlitz-Zgorzelec. Her work broadens the view of new literature in Central and Eastern Europe, was the reason given at the time. Her awards also include the Polish book prize "Nike" (2015, 2008) and the Brucke Berlin Prize (2002), which she received with translator Esther Kinsky.
Her fight for tolerance and, above all, Poland's confrontation with its own misdemeanors also created enemies for the Polish woman. She once told the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza that she had even received death threats.
Peter Handke polarizes as an angry writer
Peter Handke's works have polarized opinion for decades, and his pro-Serbia stance has repeatedly caused head-shaking and protests.
After dropping out of law school, Handke began his life as an author with verve. In 1966, his debut novel "The Hornets" was published. In the same year, he became famous almost overnight: In a diatribe, he accused the legendary literary circle Gruppe 47 of "descriptive impotence".
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Some saw it as furious self-dramatization, others as the start of a meteoric career. Handke consolidated his fame with the premiere of "Publikumsbeschimpfung" in Frankfurt. With his theater works – such as "Kaspar," "The Journey to the Sonorous Land" or "Underday Blues" – Handke remained a presence.
Making theatrical history with more than 20 plays
In 2011, the five-hour premiere of "Still Storm" at the Salzburg Festival, about the Carinthian Slovenes' struggle for freedom, caused a sensation. Companion Claus Peymann staged Handke's "The Innocents, I and the Unknown at the Edge of the Country Road" at Vienna's Burgtheater in 2016.
With his more than 20 plays, he wrote theater history, judged the jury of the Austrian Nestroy Prize, which honored him in 2018 for his life's work.
Anne Carson and Margaret Atwood were credited with great opportunities
The world's highest literary award is endowed with nine million Swedish kronor 828.000 euros, Endowed. In 2017, the prize went to British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro.
Betting companies had especially the Canadian women Anne Carson and Margaret Atwood had great chances of winning.
In contrast to the scientific Nobel Prizes the literary award is usually given to a single laureate. Only four times since the first award in 1901 have two literary figures received it jointly, the last time in 1974.
The scandal surrounding the Swedish Academy
It was dramatic year for the Swedish Academy, along with an extensive scandal and a conviction for Rape.
The photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, The writer's husband and a member of the Academy, Katarina Frostenson, were sexual harassment, indiscretions and financial advantage been accused of. At the same time, sharp criticism was levelled at the Academy's permanent secretary, Sara Danius, practiced. She is accused of Harassment and corruption scandal to have been involved.
Academy members Klas ostergren, Kjell Espmark and Peter Englund Had subsequently announced that they would be retiring from their jobs. The honor of the institution had been too much violated. Her Protest finally succeeded: Frostenson and Danius both resigned from their posts as members of the Academy.
The problematic thing was that this move would eventually make the Academy unable to act made. Previously, other members had resigned for other reasons. Out of 18 members, only eleven were left in the end. The critical crowd was twelve. The prize could not be awarded.
The scandal surrounding Arnault had already begun to unfold in November 2017 in the wake of the #MeToo revelations started after 18 women in the Swedish newspaper "Dagens Nyheter" had made accusations of sexual harassment and assault against Arnault. For rape, he was sentenced in December 2018 to two and a half years in prison sentenced, in the meantime the verdict is legally binding.
The Nobel laureates in literature of the past ten years:
- 2018: Will not be awarded until 2019 due to a crisis in the Swedish Academy.
- 2017Japanese-born British novelist Klas ostergren Kazuo Ishiguro, who, in novels of powerful emotional impact, has exposed the abyss in our supposed connectedness to the world.
- 2016: The American and songwriter Bob Dylan for his poetic re-creations in the great American song tradition.
- 2015The Belarusian Svetlana Alexievich for their many-voiced work memorializing suffering and courage in our time.
- 2014The Frenchman Patrick Modiano For the art of memory, with which he has evoked the most incomprehensible human fates and made the living world of the occupation period transparent.
- 2013: The Canadian Alice Munro, a virtuoso of the contemporary short story.
- 2012: The Chinese Mo Yan, because it combines fairy tales, history and the present with hallucinatory realism.
- 2011: The Swede Thomas Transtromer, because it shows us new paths to the real in condensed, illuminating images.
- 2010: The Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa for his cartography of power structures and sharp images of individual resistance, turmoil and defeat.
- 2009: The German writer Herta Muller, which draws landscapes of homelessness by means of condensed poetry and objective prose.
Nobel Prizes in the categories Peace, Economy and the "Alternative Nobel Prize
After the Nobel prizes for medicine, physics and chemistry were already awarded this week, it continues after literature with the Peace- and the Nobel Prize in Economics. On 4. December will also be the so-called "Alternative Nobel Prize" awarded to climate activist Greta Thunberg.
This Prize "for the design of a better world does not get it alone, however: Indigenous speaker Davi Kopenawa from Brazil, the human rights activist Aminatou Haidar from Western Sahara as well as the lawyer Guo Jianmei from China are also awarded with the prize.
The prize winners will be officially honored on 10. December in Stockholm and Oslo, on the anniversary of the death of prize donor and dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel. (jzi/msb/dpa)