After Jean-Claude Arnault was accused of sexually assaulting 18 women, causing a scandal that tore apart the Swedish Academy, the group responsible for awarding the annual Nobel Prize in Literature (check out this article for a refresher), the 2018 Nobel Prize winner in Literature has finally been announced in conjunction with 2019’s winner.
Polish author Olga Tokarczuk has been announced as the long-awaited 2018 laureate, while Austrian author Peter Handke is the 2019 laureate.
Tokarczuk’s books in English include Flights, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead and the forthcoming novel The Book of Jacob, all of which are published by Riverhead Books in the United States. Geoffrey Kloske, VP, Publisher of Riverhead Books, says, “I am thrilled at this recognition for novelist Olga Tokarczuk. While the political issues she takes on are urgent and provocative, her writing is shot with unexpected humor, captivating storylines and shimmering language. Her formal innovations expand the possibilities of what a novel can encompass. We are honored to be her publisher and thrilled to bring her to an American audience.”
The 2019 selection of Austrian playwright and novelist Handke, meanwhile, has already provoked controversy of its own, largely for Handke’s past support of former Serbian president Slobodan Miloševic. Vlora Çitaku, Kosovo’s ambassador to the U.S., called the choice of Handke “scandalous … a preposterous and shameful decision,” per The Guardian. Interestingly, Handke told Austrian newspaper Die Presse in 2014 that “the Nobel prize should finally be abolished.” His best-known works include Über die Dörfer (Walk About the Villages), the novel Die Wiederholung (Repetition), and the screenplay for Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire.