Polish author Olga Tokarczuk and Austrian author Peter Handke have been awarded the Nobel Literature Prize for 2018 and 2019, respectively, the Swedish Academy announced on Thursday.
Anders Olsson of the Swedish Academy said they receive close to 200 nominations every year, and this year shortlisted eight people, from which Tokarczuk and Handke were chosen.
In its announcement, the academy lauded Tokarczuk’s 2014 historical novel Księgi Jakubowe (The Books of Jacob) as a work that “showed the supreme capacity of the novel to represent a case almost beyond human understanding.”
She “constructs her novels in a tension between cultural opposites; nature versus culture, reason versus madness, male versus female, home versus alienation”, the academy said.
Handke, the academy said, had “established himself as one of the most influential writers in Europe after the Second World War” with a vast number of works across different genres.
The peculiar art of Handke “is the extraordinary attention to landscapes and the material presence of the world, which has made cinema and painting two of his greatest sources of inspiration,” it said.
Academy member Olsson had earlier said it had widened its perspective from a more eurocentric and male-oriented one previously.
According to The Guardian, the favourites for this year’s prizes had included Canadians Margaret Atwood and poet Anne Carson, Maryse Condé from Guadeloupe, Japanese author Haruki Murakami and Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. The academy’s decision-making process is kept secret.
There are two laureates this year after allegations of corruption and sexual assault shook the Swedish Academy, leading to the cancellation of the prize in 2018 for the first time in nearly 70 years.
The academy’s decision to award the 2016 prize to singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was seen as a highly controversial.
India’s Rabindranath Tagore was the first non-European Laureate of the Nobel Literature Prize when he was awarded the prize in 1913.