The mysterious hoax Nobel Literature Prize website

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In the minutes before the Nobel Prize for literature was announced this morning, British newspaper the Guardian asked, ‘Has the Nobel scooped itself or is it a hoax?’ The paper pointed to a website that looked exactly like the Nobel Prize website and that had announced that Serbian author Dobrica Cosic had won the Nobel Prize in literature.

Official Serbian news outlets in Belgrade picked up the story, the Associated Press reports.


But it was, indeed, a hoax. A few minutes later, it was announced that the Nobel Prize for literature was going to Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer.

The fake website,, was located on a different server but had copied the design of the real Nobel Prize website and linked to some of its content, making the site seem geniune at first glance. The actual Nobel Prize website is located at a different url,

The domain name for the fake site was bought on Oct. 5, the day before the actual Nobel Laureate in literature was announced. The site appeared to go live in the minutes before the announcement, and an email -- which appeared to be sent from the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences -- was sent to news outlets about Cosic’s ‘win.’

Cosic has supporters and detractors. The Serbian novelist briefly served as president of Yugoslavia before its breakup, after being ‘hand-picked’ by Slobodan Milosevic, according to the Associated Press. The 90-year-old writer’s name has not commonly been associated with discussions of the Nobel Prize.


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-- Carolyn Kellogg