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Polish, Austrian authors awarded Nobel Prize for literature

Olga Tokarczuk, a Polish author, and Peter Handke, win the Nobel Prize in Literature
(left) Olga Tokarczuk, a Polish author, and Peter Handke, an Austrian writer, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
(AP / Getty Images)

A year after the Swedish Academy canceled the Nobel Prize for literature amid a sexual abuse and financial misconduct scandal, the organization awarded the honor to not one but two authors Thursday.

Polish author Olga Tokarczuk and Austrian author Peter Handke were named recipients on Thursday, with Tokarczuk receiving belated recognition for 2018 work, while Handke was honored for writing this year.

Tokarczuk was honored “for a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life,” while Handke was honored “for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience,” according to Mats Malm, the Swedish Academy’s permanent secretary.

Last year’s award was scrapped on the heels of the furor surrounding Jean-Claude Arnault, a convicted rapist married to poet and former Swedish Academy member Katarina Frostenson.

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The Nobel Prize in physics is given to Canadian American cosmologist James Peebles and Swiss scientists Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz.

The Nobel Foundation announced in March that it planned to double up on the literary awards after last year’s controversy, which cut the number of Swedish Academy voters from 18 to 11.

Arnault was accused of leaking the names of Nobel Prize winners as well as assaulting or harassing 18 women — including Crown Princess Victoria, heir to the Swedish throne — causing several members to resign. Frostenson and Arnault also faced conflict-of-interest allegations involving Forum, a Swedish cultural center funded in part by the Swedish Academy.

“The Remains of the Day” and “Never Let Me Go” author Kazuo Ishiguro is the most recent Nobel laureate for literature. A graduate of the University of Kent and the University of East Anglia, he added the Nobel Prize to his list of accomplishments in 2017. Hollywood has also adapted his work into multiple films and TV series.

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This year marks the 118th anniversary of the Nobel Prize, with each of the winners in literature receiving more than $910,000 in prize money.

Past literary recipients include Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, Toni Morrison, William Faulkner, Nadine Gordimer, John Steinbeck and, in an unexpected twist, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan in 2016.

Other 2019 laureates include scientists James Peebles, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, who won the physics honor for their explorations of the cosmos.


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