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Nobel Foundation says two literature prizes to be awarded this year

  • 5 Mar 2019

The Swedish Academy will be allowed to award the 2018 and 2019 Nobel Prize for literature this year after a sex scandal forced a postponement of last year's prize.

The Swedish Academy postponed the 2018 Nobel Prize for literature in May 2018 after 18 women made sexual assault allegations against French photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, 72, husband of Swedish Academy member Katarina Frostenson. ( Reuters Archive )

Two Nobel prizes will be awarded for literature this year after the Swedish literary academy that chooses the winner cleaned house following scandals that prevented last year's prize from being given, the Nobel Foundation said on Tuesday.

The Nobel Foundation blocked the Swedish Academy from awarding the prize last year after sexual misconduct allegations against the husband of one of its board members and accusations of leaks had effectively paralysed the institution.

"The Nobel Prize in Literature will once again be awarded, and this autumn Laureates for both 2018 and 2019 will be announced," the Nobel Foundation said in a statement.

"The Nobel Foundation's Board of Directors believes that the steps that the Swedish Academy has taken and intends to take will create good opportunities for restoring trust in the Academy as a prize-awarding institution."

Lars Heikensten, head of the foundation that administers the prizes created in the will of dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel, had warned last year it might strip the 233-year-old academy of its role in awarding the prize.

Jean-Claude Arnault, the photographer husband of poet and former academy member Katarina Frostenson, was jailed last year after a rape conviction. Frostenson left the body in January after an inquiry found she had leaked the names of prize winners, which she denies.

The scandal, which first emerged in late 2017, was the biggest crisis to hit the academy in its history, with a string of members resigning in protest.

Since then, it has appointed several new members and set up a new prize committee, aiming to restore public confidence and retain the right to pick the winners of the world's most prestigious literary award.

"There will be two Nobel prizes, as we had hoped," Academy head Anders Olsson told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter after attending a meeting with the foundation.

"It is very good that we have achieved a result after this long time. Now we can work in peace and quiet for the prize."

The Swedish Academy, set up in 1786 to safeguard the Swedish language, picks the winner of the prize only in the field of literature. Other Swedish academic institutions select winners of the awards in scientific fields, and a Norwegian committee picks the winner of the peace prize. 

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