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Swedish Academy Announces No Nobel Prize in Literature in 2018

The Swedish Academy has decided it will not award the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2018, and instead will announce the winner next year, along with the 2019 laureate.

The decision comes as the organization is engulfed in controversy over sexual assault allegations.

The announcement by the academy, one of Sweden’s most highly respected institutions, was made on Friday morning following a meeting of its remaining 10 active members Thursday evening.

Six of the group’s members have stepped down from their positions in recent weeks, some reportedly in protest at the way the crisis has been handled. Members are approved by the king and keep their chairs for life.

This year’s crisis centers on a leading cultural figure in Sweden, Jean-Claude Arnault, husband of Katarina Frostenson, one of the six academy members who stepped down.

The Swedish Academy’s annual meeting in Stockholm in December. PIC: NY TIMES

Arnault is facing multiple allegations of sexual assault and harassment, first reported in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter late last year. He is also accused of touching Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria inappropriately at a Swedish Academy event over a decade ago.

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His lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig says his client has denied all the allegations.

“The active members of the Swedish Academy are of course fully aware that the present crisis of confidence places high demands on a long term and robust work for change. We find it necessary to commit time to recovering public confidence in the Academy before the next laureate can be announced. This is out of respect for previous and future literature laureates, the Nobel Foundation, and the general public,” said Anders Olsson, interim permanent secretary of the academy.

After the allegations against Arnault were made public in November, three members of the 18-strong jury that selects the literature laureate resigned in protest over the decision not to expel Frostenson.

Arnault was also accused of leaking the names of seven former Nobel winners, claims he denies.

“The crisis in the Swedish Academy has adversely affected the Nobel prize. Their decision underscores the seriousness of the situation and will help safeguard the long-term reputation of the Nobel prize. None of this impacts the awarding of the 2018 Nobel prizes in other prize categories,” Carl-Henrik Heldin, chairman of the Nobel Foundation board said.

The last time there was a postponement of the literature prize was in 1943 at the height of World War II. On seven previous occasions has it been postponed six of which occurred during World War I and II.

The Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded by the Swedish Academy since its inception following the death of Alfred Nobel in 1896.

Recent winners include Kazuo Ishiguro, Doris Lessing and Bob Dylan.

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Written by How Africa

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