Nobel literature prize will not be awarded this year

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The old Stock Exchange Building, home of the Swedish Academy in Stockholm that selects the winner of Nobel prize in Literature. Photo: AP

PV International Desk : The Nobel Prize in literature will not be awarded this year following sex-abuse allegations and other issues that have affected the public image 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.”

It will be the first time since World War II that the prestigious award is not handed out. Last year, Japanese-born British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro won the prize.

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 in a report that “unacceptable behavior in the form of unwanted intimacy” took place within its ranks, but its handling of the allegations 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.

At this week’s meeting, members agreed to review the academy’s operating practices, according to a statement released by the body.

The academy said that “work on the selection of a laureate is at an advanced stage and will continue as usual in the months ahead but the Academy needs time to regain its full complement.”

The Nobel Foundation reacted promptly, saying it presumes that the 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.”