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) , image = Nobel Prize.png , caption = , awarded_for = Outstanding contributions in literature , presenter =
Swedish Academy The Swedish Academy ( sv, Svenska Akademien), founded in 1786 by King Gustav III, is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden Sweden (; sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic count ...
, holder = Abdulrazak Gurnah , location =
Stockholm Stockholm (; ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller ...

Stockholm
, Sweden , year = 1901 , reward = 10 million SEK (2020) , website
nobelprize.org
The Nobel Prize in Literature (here meaning ''for'' literature) is a Swedish literature prize that is awarded annually, since 1901, to an author from any country who has, in the words of the will of Swedish industrialist
Alfred Nobel Alfred Bernhard Nobel ( , ; 21 October 1833 – 10 December 1896) was a Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor, businessman, and philanthropist. He held 355 different patents NPOV disputes from March 2021 A patent is a title A title ...

Alfred Nobel
, "in the field of
literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expan ...

literature
, produced the most outstanding work in an
idealistic In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, l ...
direction" (original Swedish: ''den som inom litteraturen har producerat det utmärktaste i idealisk rigtning''). Though individual works are sometimes cited as being particularly noteworthy, the award is based on an author's body of work as a whole. The
Swedish Academy The Swedish Academy ( sv, Svenska Akademien), founded in 1786 by King Gustav III, is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden Sweden (; sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic count ...
decides who, if anyone, will receive the prize. The academy announces the name of the laureate in early October. It is one of the five
Nobel Prize The Nobel Prizes ( ; sv, Nobelpriset ; no, Nobelprisen ) are five separate prizes that, according to Alfred Nobel's Will and testament, will of 1895, are awarded to "those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to ...
s established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895. Literature is traditionally the final award presented at the Nobel Prize ceremony. On some occasions the award has been postponed to the following year, most recently in 2018.


Background

Alfred Nobel Alfred Bernhard Nobel ( , ; 21 October 1833 – 10 December 1896) was a Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor, businessman, and philanthropist. He held 355 different patents NPOV disputes from March 2021 A patent is a title A title ...

Alfred Nobel
stipulated in his last will and testament that his money be used to create a series of prizes for those who confer the "greatest benefit on mankind" in
physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular succession of eve ...

physics
,
chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo during a with other . ...

chemistry
,
peace upStatue of Eirene, goddess of peace in ancient Greek religion, with her son Pluto. Peace is a concept of societal friendship and harmony in the absence of hostility Hostility is seen as form of emotionally charged aggressive behavior. In ...

peace
,
physiology Physiology (; ) is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...
or
medicine Medicine is the science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts ( descriptive knowledge), skills (proced ...

medicine
, and
literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expan ...

literature
. Though Nobel wrote several wills during his lifetime, the last was written a little over a year before he died, and signed at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents , in an area of more than . Since the 17th century, Paris ha ...

Paris
on 27 November 1895. Nobel bequeathed 94% of his total assets, 31 million Swedish ''kronor'' (
US$ The United States dollar (symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, ...

US$
198 million,
The euro sign () is the currency sign A currency symbol or currency sign is a graphic symbol used as a shorthand for a currency's name, especially in reference to amounts of money. Usage When writing currency amounts, the location of the sym ...

€
176 million in 2016), to establish and endow the five Nobel Prizes."The Will of Alfred Nobel"
''nobelprize.org''. Retrieved 6 November 2007.
Due to the level of skepticism surrounding the will, it was not until 26 April 1897 that the
Storting The Storting ( no, Stortinget ) is the supreme legislature of Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") is an official written standard ...
(Norwegian Parliament) approved it. The executors of his will were
Ragnar SohlmanRagnar Sohlman (February 26, 1870 in Stockholm Stockholm is the Capital city, capital of Sweden. It has the most populous urban area in Sweden as well as in Scandinavia. 1 million people live in the Stockholm Municipality, municipality, appr ...
and Rudolf Lilljequist, who formed the Nobel Foundation to take care of Nobel's fortune and organize the prizes. The members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee that were to award the Peace Prize were appointed shortly after the will was approved. The prize-awarding organisations followed: the Karolinska Institutet on 7 June, the Swedish Academy on 9 June, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on 11 June. The Nobel Foundation then reached an agreement on guidelines for how the Nobel Prize should be awarded. In 1900, the Nobel Foundation's newly created
statute A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) ...

statute
s were promulgated by King
Oscar II Oscar II (Oscar Fredrik; 21 January 1829 – 8 December 1907) was King of Sweden from 1872 until his death in 1907, and King of Norway from 1872 to 1905. Oscar II was King during a time when both Sweden and Norway were undergoing a period of in ...

Oscar II
.AFP
"Alfred Nobel's last will and testament"
, ''
The Local ''The Local'' is a multi-regional, European, English-language digital news publisher with local editions in Austria Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a landlocked country in the southern part of Central Europe, loca ...
''(5 October 2009): accessed 20 January 2010.
"Nobel Prize
(2007), in ''
Encyclopædia Britannica The (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it be ...
'', accessed 15 January 2009, from ''Encyclopædia Britannica Online'':
According to Nobel's will, the prize in literature should be determined by "the Academy in Stockholm", which was specified by the statutes of the Nobel Foundation to mean the
Swedish Academy The Swedish Academy ( sv, Svenska Akademien), founded in 1786 by King Gustav III, is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden Sweden (; sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic count ...
.Kjell Espmark: The Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobelprize.org


Nomination and award procedure

Each year, the
Swedish Academy The Swedish Academy ( sv, Svenska Akademien), founded in 1786 by King Gustav III, is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden Sweden (; sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic count ...
sends out requests for nominations of candidates for the Nobel Prize in
Literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expan ...

Literature
. Members of the Academy, members of literature academies and societies, professors of literature and language, former Nobel literature laureates, and the presidents of writers' organizations are all allowed to nominate a candidate. It is not permitted to nominate oneself. Thousands of requests are sent out each year, and about 220 proposals were returned. Per Wästberg (President of The Nobel Committee for Literature)
"Do We Need the Nobel?"
''
The New York Review of Books ''The New York Review of Books'' (or ''NYREV'' or ''NYRB'') is a semi-monthly magazine with articles on literature, culture, economics, science and current affairs. Published in New York City, it is inspired by the idea that the discussion of i ...
'', 22 December 2011. Last accessed December 2011.
These proposals must be received by the Academy by 1 February, after which they are examined by the Nobel Committee. By April, the Academy narrows the field to around twenty candidates. By May, a short list of five names is approved by the Committee. The next four months are spent in reading and reviewing the works of the five candidates. In October, members of the Academy vote and the candidate who receives more than half of the votes is named the Nobel laureate in Literature. No one can get the prize without being on the list at least twice; thus many authors reappear and are reviewed repeatedly over the years. The academy is master of thirteen languages, but when a candidate is shortlisted from an unknown language, they call on translators and oath-sworn experts to provide samples of that writer. Other elements of the process are similar to those of other Nobel Prizes. The judges are composed of an 18 member committee who are elected for life, and until 2018 not technically permitted to leave. On 2 May 2018,
King Carl XVI Gustaf Carl XVI Gustaf (Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus; born 30 April 1946) is King of Sweden The monarchy of Sweden concerns the monarchical head of state of Sweden,See the #IOG, Instrument of Government, Chapter 1, Article 5. which is a constitutiona ...
amended the rules of the academy and made it possible for members to resign. The new rules also state that a member who has been inactive in the work of the academy for more than two years can be asked to resign. The award is usually announced in October. Sometimes, however, the award has been announced the year after the nominal year, the latest such case being the 2018 award. In the midst of controversy surrounding claims of sexual assault, conflict of interest, and resignations by officials, on 4 May 2018, the Swedish Academy announced that the 2018 laureate would be announced in 2019 along with the 2019 laureate.


Prizes

A Literature Nobel Prize laureate earns a
gold medal A gold medal is a medal Medal depicting Herbert C. Hoover by Devreese Godefroi A medal or medallion is a small portable artistic object, a thin disc, normally of metal, carrying a design, usually on both sides. They typically have a comm ...

gold medal
, a
diploma A diploma is a certificate or deed issued by an educational institution, such as college or university, that testifies that the recipient has successfully completed a particular course of study. The word diploma also refers to an academic award w ...

diploma
bearing a
citation A citation is a reference Reference is a relationship between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another object. The first object in this relation is said to ''refer to'' the second o ...

citation
, and a sum of money. The amount of money awarded depends on the income of the Nobel Foundation that year. If a prize is awarded to more than one laureate, the money is either split evenly among them or, for three laureates, it may be divided into a half and two quarters."Nobel Prize – Prizes"
(2007), in ''
Encyclopædia Britannica The (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it be ...
'', accessed 15 January 2009, from ''Encyclopædia Britannica Online'':
If a prize is awarded jointly to two or more laureates, the money is split among them. The prize money of the Nobel Prize has been fluctuating since its inauguration but it stood at (about ), previously it was . This was not the first time the prize-amount was decreased—beginning with a nominal value of in 1901 (worth 8,123,951 in 2011 SEK) the nominal value has been as low as (2,370,660 in 2011 SEK) in 1945—but it has been uphill or stable since then, peaking at an SEK-2011 value of 11,659,016 in 2001. The laureate is also invited to give a lecture during "Nobel Week" in
Stockholm Stockholm (; ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller ...

Stockholm
; the highlight is the prize-giving ceremony and banquet on 10 December. It is the second richest literary prize in the world.


Medals

The Nobel Prize medals, minted by Myntverket in Sweden and the Mint of Norway since 1902, are registered trademarks of the Nobel Foundation. Each medal features an image of Alfred Nobel in left profile on the obverse (front side of the medal). The Nobel Prize medals for Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature have identical obverses, showing the image of Alfred Nobel and the years of his birth and death (1833–1896). Nobel's portrait also appears on the obverse of the Nobel Peace Prize medal and the Medal for the Prize in Economics, but with a slightly different design."The Nobel Prize for Peace"
, "Linus Pauling: Awards, Honors, and Medals", ''Linus Pauling and The Nature of the Chemical Bond: A Documentary History'', the Valley Library,
Oregon State University Oregon State University (OSU) is a public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of such groupings. This is a different concept t ...
. Retrieved 7 December 2007.
The image on the reverse of a medal varies according to the institution awarding the prize. The reverse sides of the Nobel Prize medals for Chemistry and Physics share the same design."Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Front and back images of the medal. 1954"
"Source: Photo by Eric Arnold. Ava Helen and
Linus Pauling Linus Carl Pauling (; February 28, 1901 – August 19, 1994) was an American , , , , author, and educator. He published more than 1,200 papers and books, of which about 850 dealt with scientific topics. ' called him one of the 20 greatest scien ...

Linus Pauling
Papers. Honors and Awards, 1954h2.1", "All Documents and Media: Pictures and Illustrations", ''Linus Pauling and The Nature of the Chemical Bond: A Documentary History'', the Valley Library,
Oregon State University Oregon State University (OSU) is a public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of such groupings. This is a different concept t ...
. Retrieved 7 December 2007.
The medal for the Nobel Prize in Literature was designed by Erik Lindberg.


Diplomas

Nobel laureates receive a Diploma directly from the
King of Sweden The monarchy of Sweden concerns the monarchical head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 "he head of state He or HE may refer to: ...
. Each Diploma is uniquely designed by the prize-awarding institutions for the laureate who receives it. The Diploma contains a picture and text that states the name of the laureate and normally a citation of why they received the prize.


Laureates

The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded 114 times between 1901 and 2021 to 118 individuals: 102 men and 16 women. The prize has been shared between two individuals on four occasions. It was not awarded on seven occasions. The laureates have included writers in 25 different languages. The youngest laureate was
Rudyard Kipling Joseph Rudyard Kipling ( ; 30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)''The Times'', (London) 18 January 1936, p. 12. was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He was born in India, which inspired much of his work. Kipling' ...

Rudyard Kipling
, who was 41 years old when he was awarded in 1907. The oldest laureate to receive the prize was
Doris Lessing Doris May Lessing (; 22 October 1919 – 17 November 2013) was a British-Zimbabwean (Rhodesian) novelist. She was born to British parents in Qajar Iran, Iran, where she lived until 1925. Her family then moved to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimb ...
, who was 88 when she was awarded in 2007. It has been awarded
posthumously Posthumous ('after death') may refer to: * Posthumous (album), ''Posthumous'' (album), by Warne Marsh, 1987 * Posthumous (EP), ''Posthumous'' (EP), by The Banner, 2001 * Posthumous (film), ''Posthumous'' (film), a 2014 American-German film See al ...
once, to
Erik Axel Karlfeldt Erik Axel Karlfeldt (20 July 1864 – 8 April 1931) was a Swedish poet whose highly symbolist poetry masquerading as regionalism was popular and won him the Nobel Prize in Literature posthumously in 1931 after he had been nominated by Nathan Sö ...

Erik Axel Karlfeldt
in 1931. Two writers have declined the prize,
Boris Pasternak Boris Leonidovich Pasternak (; rus, Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к, p=bɐˈrʲis lʲɪɐˈnʲidəvʲɪtɕ pəstɨrˈnak; 30 May 1960) was a Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator. Composed in 1917, Pasternak's ...
in 1958 ("Accepted first, later caused by the authorities of his country (Soviet Union) to decline the Prize", according to the Nobel Foundation) and
Jean-Paul Sartre Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (, ; ; 21 June 1905 – 15 April 1980) was a French people, French philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary criticism, literary critic. He was one of the key ...

Jean-Paul Sartre
in 1964.Facts on the Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobelprize.org


Interpretations of Nobel's guidelines

Alfred Nobel's guidelines for the prize that the candidate should have bestowed "the greatest benefit on mankind", and writing "in an idealistic direction" have caused much discussion. In the early history of the prize Nobel's "
idealism In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, l ...
" was read as "a lofty and sound idealism". The set of criteria, characterized by its conservative idealism, holding church, state and family sacred, resulted in prizes to Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson,
Rudyard Kipling Joseph Rudyard Kipling ( ; 30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)''The Times'', (London) 18 January 1936, p. 12. was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He was born in India, which inspired much of his work. Kipling' ...

Rudyard Kipling
and
Paul Heyse Paul Johann Ludwig von Heyse (; 15 March 1830 – 2 April 1914) was a distinguished German writer and translator. A member of two important literary societies, the ''Tunnel über der Spree'' in Berlin and ''Die Krokodile'' in Munich, he wrote nove ...

Paul Heyse
. During
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
there was a policy of neutrality, which partly explains the number of awards to Scandinavian writers. In the 1920s "idealistic direction" was interpreted more generously as "wide-hearted humanity", and writers like
Anatole France (; born , ; 16 April 1844 – 12 October 1924) was a French poet, journalist, and novelist with several best-sellers. Ironic and skeptical, he was considered in his day the ideal French man of letters. He was a member of the Académie frança ...

Anatole France
,
George Bernard Shaw George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950), known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic, polemic Polemic () is contentious rhetoric Rhetoric () is the art Art is a diverse range ...

George Bernard Shaw
and
Thomas Mann Paul Thomas Mann ( , ; ; 6 June 1875 – 12 August 1955) was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature ) , image = Nobel Prize.png , caption = , awarded_ ...
were awarded. In the 1930s "the greatest benefit on mankind" was interpreted as writers within everybody’s reach, with authors like
Sinclair Lewis Harry Sinclair Lewis (February 7, 1885 – January 10, 1951) was an American writer and playwright A playwright or dramatist is a person who writes plays. Etymology The word "play" is from Middle English pleye, from Old English plæġ, pleġ ...

Sinclair Lewis
and
Pearl Buck Pearl Sydenstricker Buck (June 26, 1892 – March 6, 1973) also known by her Chinese name Sai Zhenzhu () was an American writer and novelist. As the daughter of missionaries, Buck spent most of her life before 1934 in Zhenjiang, China C ...

Pearl Buck
being awarded. From 1946 a renewed Academy changed focus and began to award literary pioneers like
Hermann Hesse Hermann Karl Hesse (; 2 July 1877 – 9 August 1962) was a German-Swiss poet, novelist, and painter. His best-known works include ''Demian'', ''Steppenwolf (novel), Steppenwolf'', ''Siddhartha (novel), Siddhartha'', and ''The Glass Bead Game'', ...

Hermann Hesse
,
André Gide André Paul Guillaume Gide (; 22 November 1869 – 19 February 1951) was a French author and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature (in 1947). Gide's career ranged from its beginnings in the symbolist movement, to the advent of anticoloniali ...

André Gide
, T. S. Eliot and
William Faulkner William Cuthbert Faulkner (; September 25, 1897 – July 6, 1962) was an American writer known for his novels and short stories set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County Yoknapatawpha County () is a List of fictional counties, fictional M ...

William Faulkner
. From this era, "the greatest benefit on mankind" was interpreted in a more exclusive and generous way than before. Since the 1970s the Academy has often given attention to important but internationally unnoticed writers, awarding writers like
Isaac Bashevis Singer Isaac Bashevis Singer ( yi, יצחק באַשעװיס זינגער; November 11, 1903 – July 24, 1991) was a Polish-American writer in Yiddish language, Yiddish, awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978. The Polish form of his birth name w ...

Isaac Bashevis Singer
, Odysseus Elytis,
Elias Canetti Elias Canetti (; bg, Елиас Канети; 25 July 1905 – 14 August 1994) was a German-language author, born in Ruse, Bulgaria to a merchant family. They moved to Manchester, England, but his father died in 1912, and his mother took her ...
, and
Jaroslav Seifert Jaroslav Seifert (; 23 September 1901 – 10 January 1986) was a Nobel Prize–winning Czechoslovak writer, poet and journalist. In 1984 Jaroslav Seifert won the Nobel Prize in Literature "for his poetry which endowed with freshness, sensuality ...
. From 1986 the Academy acknowledged the international horizon in Nobel's will, which rejected any consideration for the nationality of the candidates, and awarded authors from all over the world such as
Wole Soyinka Akinwande Oluwole Babatunde Soyinka ( Yoruba: ''Akínwándé Olúwo̩lé Babátúndé S̩óyíinká''; born 13 July 1934), known as Wole Soyinka (), is a Nigerian playwright, novelist, poet, and essayist in the English language. He was awarded th ...
from Nigeria,
Naguib Mahfouz Naguib Mahfouz ( ar, نجيب محفوظ, Najīb Maḥfūẓ, ; 11 December 1911 – 30 August 2006) was an Egyptian writer who won the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature. He is regarded as one of the first contemporary writers of Arabic literatu ...

Naguib Mahfouz
from Egypt,
Octavio Paz Octavio Paz Lozano (March 31, 1914 – April 19, 1998) was a Mexican poet and diplomat. For his body of work, he was awarded the 1977 Jerusalem Prize, the 1981 Miguel de Cervantes Prize, the 1982 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, and ...

Octavio Paz
from Mexico,
Nadine Gordimer Nadine Gordimer (20 November 192313 July 2014) was a South African writer, political activist and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature. She was recognized as a writer "who through her magnificent epic writing has – in the words of ...

Nadine Gordimer
from South Africa,
Derek Walcott Sir Derek Alton Walcott (23 January 1930 – 17 March 2017) was a Saint Lucia Saint Lucia (, ; french: Sainte-Lucie) is an island country in the West Indies in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. The island ...

Derek Walcott
from St. Lucia,
Toni Morrison Chloe Anthony Wofford Morrison (born Chloe Ardelia Wofford; February 18, 1931 – August 5, 2019), known as Toni Morrison, was an American novelist. Her first novel, '' The Bluest Eye'', was published in 1970. The critically acclaimed ''Son ...

Toni Morrison
, the first African-American on the list, from Japan, and
Gao XingjianGao Xingjian (高行健 in Chinese - born January 4, 1940) is a Chinese émigré An ''émigré'' () is a person who has emigration, emigrated, often with a connotation of political or social self-exile. The word is the Participle#French, past part ...

Gao Xingjian
, the first laureate to write in Chinese. In the 2000s V. S. Naipaul,
Mario Vargas Llosa Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa, 1st Marquis of Vargas Llosa (born 28 March 1936), more commonly known as Mario Vargas Llosa (; ), is a Peruvian writer, journalist, essayist, college professor, and a former politician. Vargas Llosa is one of Lati ...

Mario Vargas Llosa
and the Chinese writer
Mo Yan Guan Moye (; born 17 February 1955), better known by the pen name Mo Yan (, ), is a Chinese novelist and short story writer. Donald Morrison of U.S. news magazine ''TIME Time is the continued sequence of existence and event (philosophy), ...

Mo Yan
have been awarded, but the policy of "a prize for the whole world" has been less noticeable as the Academy has mostly awarded European and English-language writers from the Western literary tradition. In 2015 a rare prize to a non-fiction writer was awarded to
Svetlana Alexievich Svetlana Alexandrovna Alexievich (born 31 May 1948) is a Belarusian investigative journalist Investigative journalism is a form of journalism in which reporters deeply investigate a single topic of interest, such as serious crimes, political ...
.


Shared prize

The Nobel Prize in Literature can be shared between two individuals. However, the Academy has been reluctant to award shared prizes, mainly because divisions are liable to be interpreted as a result of a compromise. The shared prizes awarded to
Frederic MistralFrederic may refer to: Places * Frederic, Wisconsin, a village in Polk County * Frederic Township, Michigan, a township in Crawford County Other uses * Frederic (band), a Japanese rock band * Frederic (given name), a given name (including a list of ...
and
José Echegaray José Echegaray y Eizaguirre (19 April 18324 September 1916) was a Spanish civil engineer, mathematician, statesman, and one of the leading Spanish dramatists of the last quarter of the 19th century. He was awarded the 1904 Nobel Prize for Li ...
in 1904 and to
Karl Gjellerup Karl Adolph Gjellerup (2 June 1857 – 11 October 1919) was a Denmark, Danish poet and novelist who together with his compatriot Henrik Pontoppidan won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1917. He is associated with the Modern Breakthrough period of ...

Karl Gjellerup
and
Henrik Pontoppidan Henrik Pontoppidan (24 July 1857 – 21 August 1943) was a Danish realist writer who shared with Karl Gjellerup the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1917 for "his authentic descriptions of present-day life in Denmark." Pontoppidan's novels and shor ...

Henrik Pontoppidan
in 1917 were in fact both a result of compromises. The Academy has also hesitated to divide the prize between two authors as a shared prize runs the risk of being regarded as only half a laurel. Shared prizes are exceptional, and more recently the Academy has awarded a shared prize on only two occasions, to
Shmuel Yosef Agnon Shmuel Yosef Agnon ( he, שמואל יוסף עגנון) (July 17, 1888 – February 17, 1970) was a Nobel Prize laureate writer and was one of the central figures of modern Hebrew Modern Hebrew, also known as Israeli Hebrew ( he, עברית ...
and
Nelly Sachs Nelly Sachs (10 December 1891 – 12 May 1970) was a German-Swedish poet A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of poetry, or may perform ...
in 1966, and to
Eyvind Johnson Eyvind Johnson (29 July 1900 – 25 August 1976) was a Swedish novelist and short story writer. Regarded as the most groundbreaking novelist in modern Swedish literature he became a member of the Swedish Academy The Swedish Academy ( sv, Svens ...

Eyvind Johnson
and
Harry Martinson Harry Martinson (6May 190411February 1978) was a Swedish author, poet A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of poetry, or may perform their ...

Harry Martinson
in 1974.


Recognition of a specific work

Nobel Prize Laureates in Literature are awarded for the author's life work, but on some occasions the Academy have singled out a specific work for particular recognition. For example
Knut Hamsun Knut Hamsun (August 4, 1859 – February 19, 1952) was a Norwegian writer who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1920. Hamsun's work spans more than 70 years and shows variation with regard to consciousness, subject, Point of view ...
was awarded in 1920 "for his monumental work, ''
Growth of the Soil Growth may refer to: Biology * Auxology, the study of all aspects of human physical growth * Bacterial growth * Cell growth * Growth hormone, a peptide hormone that stimulates growth * Human development (biology) * Plant growth * Secondary growth, ...

Growth of the Soil
''",
Thomas Mann Paul Thomas Mann ( , ; ; 6 June 1875 – 12 August 1955) was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature ) , image = Nobel Prize.png , caption = , awarded_ ...
in 1929 "principally for his great novel, ''
Buddenbrooks ''Buddenbrooks'' () is a 1901 novel by Thomas Mann, chronicling the decline of a wealthy north German merchant family over the course of four generations, incidentally portraying the manner of life and mores of the Hanseaten (class), Hanseatic b ...
'', which has won steadily increased recognition as one of the classic works of contemporary literature",
John Galsworthy John Galsworthy (; 14 August 1867 – 31 January 1933) was an English novelist and playwright. Notable works include ''The Forsyte Saga'' (1906–1921) and its sequels, ''A Modern Comedy'' and ''End of the Chapter''. He won the Nobel Prize in ...

John Galsworthy
in 1932 "for his distinguished art of narration which takes its highest form in ''
The Forsyte Saga ''The Forsyte Saga'', first published under that title in 1922, is a series of three novels and two interludes published between 1906 and 1921 by the English author John Galsworthy, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature. They chronicle the vici ...

The Forsyte Saga
''",
Roger Martin du Gard Roger Martin du Gard (; 23 March 1881 – 22 August 1958) was a French novelist, winner of the 1937 Nobel Prize for Literature. Biography Trained as a paleographer and archivist, he brought to his works a spirit of objectivity and a scrupulous r ...
in 1937 “for the artistic power and truth with which he has depicted human conflict as well as some fundamental aspects of contemporary life in his novel-cycle '' Les Thibault'',"
Ernest Hemingway Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) was an American novelist, short-story writer, journalist, and sportsman. His economical and understated style—which he termed the iceberg theory—had a strong influence on 20th- ...
in 1954 "for his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in ''
The Old Man and the Sea ''The Old Man and the Sea'' is a short novel written by the American author Ernest Hemingway Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) was an American novelist, short-story writer, journalist, and sportsman. His economi ...

The Old Man and the Sea
'', and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style", and
Mikhail Sholokhov Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov ( rus, Михаил Александрович Шолохов, p=ˈʂoləxəf; – 21 February 1984) was a Russian novelist A novelist is an author or writer of novels, though often novelists also write in other ...
in 1965 "for the artistic power and integrity with which, in his epic of the Don, he has given expression to a historic phase in the life of the Russian people".


Potential candidates

Nominations are kept secret for fifty years until they are publicly available at The Nomination Database for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Currently, only nominations submitted between 1901 and 1966 are available for public viewing.


Criticism

Although the Nobel Prize in Literature has become the world's most prestigious literature prize, the Swedish Academy has attracted significant criticism for its handling of the award. Many authors who have won the prize have fallen into obscurity, while others rejected by the jury remain widely studied and read. The prize has "become widely seen as a political one – a
peace prize This list of peace prizes is an index to articles on notable prizes awarded for contributions towards achieving or maintaining peace. The list is organized by region and country of the sponsoring organization, but many of the prizes are open to pe ...
in literary disguise", whose judges are prejudiced against authors with political tastes different from theirs.
Tim Parks Timothy Harold Parks (born 19 December 1954) is a British novelist, translator, author and professor of literature. Career He is the author of eighteen novels (notably '' Europa'', which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize The Booker Priz ...
has expressed skepticism that it is possible for "Swedish professors ... compar a poet from
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...

Indonesia
, perhaps translated into English with a novelist from
Cameroon Cameroon (, french: Cameroun), officially the Republic of Cameroon (french: République du Cameroun, links=no), is a country in west 250px, A compass rose with west highlighted in black West or Occident is one of the four cardinal direc ...

Cameroon
, perhaps available only in French, and another who writes in Afrikaans but is published in German and Dutch...". As of 2021, 16 of the 118 recipients have been of Scandinavian origin. The Academy has often been alleged to be biased towards European, and in particular Swedish, authors. Nobel's "vague" wording for the criteria for the prize has led to recurrent controversy. In the original Swedish, the word ''idealisk'' translates as "ideal". The
Nobel Committee . . File:Norske nobelinstiutt 1.jpg, The Norwegian Nobel Committee, appointed by the Storting, has its own supporting body in the form of the Norwegian Nobel Institute. A Nobel Committee is a working body responsible for most of the work involved ...
's interpretation has varied over the years. In recent years, this means a kind of idealism championing human rights on a broad scale.


Controversies about Nobel laureate selections

From 1901 to 1912, the committee, headed by the conservative , weighed the literary quality of a work against its contribution towards humanity's struggle 'toward the ideal'. Leo Tolstoy, Henrik Ibsen, Émile Zola, and Mark Twain were rejected in favor of authors little read today. The first prize in 1901, awarded to the French poet Sully Prudhomme, was heavily criticised. Many believed that the acclaimed Russian author Tolstoy should have been awarded the first Nobel prize in literature. The choice of philosopher Rudolf Eucken as Nobel laureate in 1908 is widely considered to be one of the worst mistakes in the history of the Nobel Prize in Literature. The main candidates for the prize this year were poet Algernon Swinburne and author Selma Lagerlöf, but the Academy were divided between the candidates and, as a compromise, Eucken, representative of the Academy's interpretation of Nobel's "ideal direction", was launched as an alternative candidate that could be agreed upon. The choice of Swedish writer Selma Lagerlöf as Nobel laureate in 1909 (for the "lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterizes her writings") followed fierce debate because of her writing style and subject matter, which broke literary decorums of the time. During World War I and its immediate aftermath, the committee adopted a policy of neutrality, favouring writers from non-combatant countries. The pacifism, pacifistic author Romain Rolland was awarded the prize for 1915. Other years during the war Scandinavian writers were favoured, or the award was postponed. In 1931 the prize was awarded posthumously to the poet and former permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy
Erik Axel Karlfeldt Erik Axel Karlfeldt (20 July 1864 – 8 April 1931) was a Swedish poet whose highly symbolist poetry masquerading as regionalism was popular and won him the Nobel Prize in Literature posthumously in 1931 after he had been nominated by Nathan Sö ...

Erik Axel Karlfeldt
, who had died earlier that year. The prize was controversial not just because it was the first and only time the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded posthumously, but because the Academy had previously awarded two other Swedish writers of the same literary era, Selma Lagerlöf in 1909 and Verner von Heidenstam in 1916. Internationally it was heavily criticised as few had heard of Karlfeldt. The Nobel Prize awarded to
Pearl Buck Pearl Sydenstricker Buck (June 26, 1892 – March 6, 1973) also known by her Chinese name Sai Zhenzhu () was an American writer and novelist. As the daughter of missionaries, Buck spent most of her life before 1934 in Zhenjiang, China C ...

Pearl Buck
in 1938 is one of the most criticised in the history of the prize. The Academy awarded Buck "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces", referring to acclaimed and popular books published only a few years earlier. But her later work is generally not considered to be of the literary standard of a Nobel laureate. John Steinbeck received the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature. The selection was heavily criticised, and described as "one of the Academy's biggest mistakes" in one Swedish newspaper. ''The New York Times'' asked why the Nobel committee gave the award to an author whose "limited talent is, in his best books, watered down by tenth-rate philosophising", adding, "we think it interesting that the laurel was not awarded to a writer ... whose significance, influence and sheer body of work had already made a more profound impression on the literature of our age". In 1964,
Jean-Paul Sartre Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (, ; ; 21 June 1905 – 15 April 1980) was a French people, French philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary criticism, literary critic. He was one of the key ...

Jean-Paul Sartre
was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, but he wrote declining it, stating that "It is not the same thing if I sign Jean-Paul Sartre or if I sign Jean-Paul Sartre, Nobel Prize laureate. A writer must refuse to allow himself to be transformed into an institution, even if it takes place in the most honorable form." Nevertheless he was awarded the prize. Soviet dissident writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the 1970 prize laureate, did not attend the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm for fear that the USSR would prevent his return afterwards (his works there were circulated in ''samizdat''—clandestine form). After the Swedish government refused to honor Solzhenitsyn with a public award ceremony and lecture at its Moscow embassy, Solzhenitsyn refused the award altogether, commenting that the conditions set by the Swedes (who preferred a private ceremony) were "an insult to the Nobel Prize itself." Solzhenitsyn did not accept the award and prize money until 10 December 1974, after he was deported from the Soviet Union.Stig Fredrikson
"How I Helped Alexandr Solzhenitsyn Smuggle His Nobel Lecture from the USSR"
''nobelprize.org'', 22 February 2006. Retrieved 12 October 2011.
Within the Swedish Academy, member Artur Lundkvist had argued that the Nobel Prize in Literature should not become a political prize and questioned the artistic value of Solzhenitsyn's work. In 1974, Graham Greene, Vladimir Nabokov, and Saul Bellow were believed to be likely candidates for the prize but the Academy decided on a joint award for Swedish authors
Eyvind Johnson Eyvind Johnson (29 July 1900 – 25 August 1976) was a Swedish novelist and short story writer. Regarded as the most groundbreaking novelist in modern Swedish literature he became a member of the Swedish Academy The Swedish Academy ( sv, Svens ...

Eyvind Johnson
and
Harry Martinson Harry Martinson (6May 190411February 1978) was a Swedish author, poet A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of poetry, or may perform their ...

Harry Martinson
, both members of the
Swedish Academy The Swedish Academy ( sv, Svenska Akademien), founded in 1786 by King Gustav III, is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden Sweden (; sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic count ...
at the time, and unknown outside their home country. Bellow received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1976; neither Greene nor Nabokov was awarded it. The award to Italian performance artist Dario Fo in 1997 was initially considered "rather lightweight" by some critics, as he was seen primarily as a performer, and Catholic organizations saw the award to Fo as controversial as he had previously been censured by the Catholic Church, Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican newspaper ''L'Osservatore Romano'' expressed surprise at Fo's selection for the prize commenting that "Giving the prize to someone who is also the author of questionable works is beyond all imagination." Salman Rushdie and Arthur Miller had been strongly favoured to receive the prize, but the Nobel organisers were later quoted as saying that they would have been "too predictable, too popular." The award to Camilo José Cela was controversial as he had moved voluntarily from Madrid to Galicia (Spain), Galicia during the Spanish Civil War in order to join Francisco Franco, Franco's rebel forces there as a volunteer; at the time of the Nobel ceremony in Stockholm in 1989, an article by Miguel Angel Villena, ''Between Fear and Impunity'', which compiled commentaries by Spanish novelists on the noteworthy silence of the older generation of Spanish novelists on the Francoist pasts of public intellectuals, appeared below a photograph of Cela. A member of the Swedish Academy, Knut Ahnlund, who had not played an active role in the Academy since 1996, protested against the choice of the 2004 laureate, Elfriede Jelinek; Ahnlund resigned, alleging that selecting Jelinek had caused "irreparable damage" to the reputation of the award.Associated Press
"Who Deserves Nobel Prize? Judges Don't Agree"
''MSNBC'', 11 October 2005. Retrieved 13 October 2007.
The selection of Harold Pinter for the prize in 2005 was delayed for a couple of days, apparently due to Ahnlund's resignation, and led to renewed speculations about there being a "political element" in the Swedish Academy's awarding of the prize. Although Pinter was unable to give his Nobel Lecture in person because of ill health, he delivered it from a television studio on video projected on screens to an audience at the
Swedish Academy The Swedish Academy ( sv, Svenska Akademien), founded in 1786 by King Gustav III, is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden Sweden (; sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic count ...
, in
Stockholm Stockholm (; ) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller ...

Stockholm
. His comments have been the source of much commentary and debate. The issue of their "political stance" was also raised in response to the awards of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Orhan Pamuk and
Doris Lessing Doris May Lessing (; 22 October 1919 – 17 November 2013) was a British-Zimbabwean (Rhodesian) novelist. She was born to British parents in Qajar Iran, Iran, where she lived until 1925. Her family then moved to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimb ...
in 2006 and 2007, respectively.Dan Kellum
"Lessing's Legacy of Political Literature:
The Nation: Skeptics Call It A Nonliterary Nobel Win, But Academy Saw Her Visionary Power", ''CBS News'', rpt. from ''The Nation'' (column), 14 October 2007. Retrieved 17 October 2007.
In recent years, the choices of Bob Dylan for the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature and Peter Handke for the 2019 Nobel Prize in Literature have been heavily criticised.


Nationality-based criticism

The prize's focus on European men, and Swedes in particular, has been the subject of criticism, even from Swedish newspapers. The majority of laureates have been European, with Sweden itself receiving more prizes (8) than all of Asia (7, if Turkish Orhan Pamuk is included), as well as all of Latin America (7, if Saint Lucian
Derek Walcott Sir Derek Alton Walcott (23 January 1930 – 17 March 2017) was a Saint Lucia Saint Lucia (, ; french: Sainte-Lucie) is an island country in the West Indies in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. The island ...

Derek Walcott
is included). In 2009, Horace Engdahl, then the permanent secretary of the Academy, declared that "Europe still is the centre of the literary world" and that "the US is too isolated, too insular. They don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature." In 2009, Engdahl's replacement, Peter Englund, rejected this sentiment ("In most language areas ... there are authors that really deserve and could get the Nobel Prize and that goes for the United States and the Americas, as well") and acknowledged the Eurocentric nature of the award, saying that, "I think that is a problem. We tend to relate more easily to literature written in Europe and in the European tradition." American critics are known to object that those from their own country, like Philip Roth, Thomas Pynchon, and Cormac McCarthy, have been overlooked, as have Latin Americans such as Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, and Carlos Fuentes, while in their place Europeans lesser-known to that continent have triumphed. The 2009 award to Herta Müller, previously little-known outside Germany but many times named favorite for the Nobel Prize, re-ignited the viewpoint that the Swedish Academy was biased and Eurocentric. The 2010 prize was awarded to
Mario Vargas Llosa Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa, 1st Marquis of Vargas Llosa (born 28 March 1936), more commonly known as Mario Vargas Llosa (; ), is a Peruvian writer, journalist, essayist, college professor, and a former politician. Vargas Llosa is one of Lati ...

Mario Vargas Llosa
, a native of Peru in South America, a generally well-regarded decision. When the 2011 prize was awarded to the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy Peter Englund said the prize was not decided based on politics, describing such a notion as "literature for dummies". The Swedish Academy awarded the next two prizes to non-Europeans, Chinese author
Mo Yan Guan Moye (; born 17 February 1955), better known by the pen name Mo Yan (, ), is a Chinese novelist and short story writer. Donald Morrison of U.S. news magazine ''TIME Time is the continued sequence of existence and event (philosophy), ...

Mo Yan
and Canadian short story writer Alice Munro. French writer Patrick Modiano's win in 2014 renewed questions of Eurocentrism; when asked by ''The Wall Street Journal'' "So no American this year, yet again. Why is that?", Englund reminded Americans of the Canadian origins of the previous year's recipient, the Academy's desire for literary quality and the impossibility of rewarding everyone who deserves the prize.


Overlooked literary achievements

In the history of the Nobel Prize in Literature, many critical literary figures were overlooked. The literary historian Kjell Espmark admitted that "as to the early prizes, the censure of bad choices and blatant omissions is often justified. Tolstoy, Ibsen, and Henry James should have been rewarded instead of, for instance, Sully Prudhomme, Rudolf Christoph Eucken, Eucken, and Paul Heyse, Heyse". There are omissions which are beyond the control of the Nobel Committee such as the early death of an author as was the case with Marcel Proust, Italo Calvino, and Roberto Bolaño. According to Kjell Espmark "the main works of Franz Kafka, Kafka, Constantine P. Cavafy, Cavafy, and Fernando Pessoa, Pessoa were not published until after their deaths and the true dimensions of Osip Mandelstam, Mandelstam's poetry were revealed above all in the unpublished poems that his wife saved from extinction and gave to the world long after he had perished in his Siberian exile". British novelist
Tim Parks Timothy Harold Parks (born 19 December 1954) is a British novelist, translator, author and professor of literature. Career He is the author of eighteen novels (notably '' Europa'', which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize The Booker Priz ...
ascribed the never-ending controversy surrounding the decisions of the Nobel Committee to the "essential silliness of the prize and our own foolishness at taking it seriously" and noted that "eighteen (or sixteen) Swedish nationals will have a certain credibility when weighing up works of Swedish literature, but what group could ever really get its mind round the infinitely varied work of scores of different traditions. And why should we ask them to do that?" Although several Scandinavians were awarded, two of the most celebrated writers, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen and Swedish author August Strindberg were repeatedly bypassed by the committee, but Strindberg holds the singular distinction of being awarded an Anti-Nobel Prize, conferred by popular acclaim and national subscription and presented to him in 1912 by future prime minister Hjalmar Branting. Paul Valéry was nominated twelve times between 1930 and 1945, but died just as the Academy intended to award him the prize in 1945. James Joyce wrote the books that rank 1st and 3rd on the Modern Library 100 Best Novels – ''Ulysses (novel), Ulysses'' and ''Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'' – but Joyce was never nominated for the prize. Kjell Espmark, member of the Nobel Prize committee and author of the history of the prize, claimed that Joyce's "stature was not properly recognized even in the English-speaking world", but that Joyce doubtless would have been awarded if he had lived in the late 1940s when the Academy began to award literary pioneers like T. S. Eliot. Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges was nominated for the prize several times but the Academy did not award it to him, though he was among the final candidates some years in the 1960s. Graham Greene was nominated for the prize twenty times between the years 1950 and 1966. Greene was a celebrated candidate to be awarded the prize in the 1960s and 1970s, and the Academy was criticised for passing him over. French novelist and intellectual André Malraux was seriously considered for the prize in the 1950s. Malraux was competing with Albert Camus but was rejected several times, especially in 1954 and 1955, "so long as he does not come back to novel". Thus, Camus was awarded the prize in 1957.Olivier Truc
"Et Camus obtint enfin le prix Nobel"
''Le Monde'', 28 December 2008.
Malraux was again considered in 1969 when he was competing with Samuel Beckett for the prize. Some members of the Nobel committee supported a prize to Malraux, but Beckett was awarded. W. H. Auden was nominated to the Nobel Prize in Literature ten times in the 1960s and was among the final candidates for the prize several times, but the Academy favoured other writers. In 1964 Auden and
Jean-Paul Sartre Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (, ; ; 21 June 1905 – 15 April 1980) was a French people, French philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary criticism, literary critic. He was one of the key ...

Jean-Paul Sartre
were the leading candidates, and the Academy favoured Sartre as Auden's best work was thought "too far back in time". In 1967 Auden was one of three final candidates along with Graham Greene and the awarded Guatemalan author Miguel Ángel Asturias.


Controversies about Swedish Academy board members

Membership in the 18-member academy, who select the recipients, is technically for life. Until 2018 members were not allowed to leave, although they might refuse to participate. For members who did not participate their board seat was left vacant until they died. Twelve active/participating members are required for a quorum. In 1989, three members, including the former permanent secretary Lars Gyllensten, resigned in protest after the academy refused to denounce Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini for calling for the death of Salman Rushdie, author of ''The Satanic Verses''. A fourth member, Knut Ahnlund, decided to remain in the academy, but later refused to participate in their work and resigned in 2005 in protest to the Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to Elfriede Jelinek. According to Ahnlund the decision to award Jelinek ruined the worth of the Nobel Prize in Literature for a long time.


2018 controversy and award cancellation

In April 2018, three members of the academy board resigned in response to a sexual-misconduct investigation involving author Jean-Claude Arnault, who is married to board member Katarina Frostenson. Arnault was accused by at least 18 women of sexual assault and harassment. He and his wife were also accused of leaking the names of prize recipients on at least seven occasions so friends could profit from bets. He denied all accusations, although he was later convicted of rape and sentenced to two years and six months in prison. Sara Danius, the board secretary, hired a law firm to investigate if Frostenson had leaked confidential information and if Arnault had any influence on the Academy, but no legal action was taken. The investigation caused a split within the Academy. Following a vote to exclude board member Frostenson the three members resigned in protest over the decisions by the Academy. Two former permanent secretaries, Sture Allén and Horace Engdahl, called Danius a weak leader. On 10 April, Danius was asked to resign from her position by the Academy, bringing the number of empty seats to four. Although the Academy voted against removing Katarina Frostenson from the committee, she voluntarily agreed to withdraw from participating in the academy, bringing the total of withdrawals to five. Because two other seats were still vacant from the Rushdie affair, this left only 11 active members, one short of the quorum needed to vote in replacements. On 4 May 2018, the Swedish Academy announced that the selection would be postponed until 2019, when two laureates would be chosen. It was still technically possible to choose a 2018 laureate, as only eight active members are required to choose a recipient. However, there were concerns that the academy was not in any condition to credibly present the award. The New Academy Prize in Literature was created as an alternative award for 2018 only. The scandal was widely seen as damaging to the credibility of the prize and its authority. As noted by Andrew Brown (writer), Andrew Brown in ''The Guardian'' in a lengthy deconstruction of the scandal: King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden#Reign, Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden said a reform of the rules may be evaluated, including the introduction of the right to resign in respect of the current lifelong membership of the committee. On 5 March 2019, it was announced that the Nobel Prize in Literature would once again be awarded, and laureates for both 2018 and 2019 would be announced together. The decision came after several changes were made to the structure of the Swedish Academy as well as to the Nobel Committee members selection, in order to "[restore] trust in the Academy as a prize-awarding institution".


Similar international prizes

The Nobel Prize in Literature is not the only literary prize for which all nationalities are eligible. Other notable international literary prizes include the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the Franz Kafka Prize, the International Booker Prize when it was previously awarded for a writer's entire body of work, and in the 1960s the Formentor Prix International. In contrast to the other prizes mentioned, the Neustadt International Prize is awarded biennially. The journalist Hephzibah Anderson has noted that the International Booker Prize "is fast becoming the more significant award, appearing an ever more competent alternative to the Nobel". However since 2016 the International Booker Prize now recognizes an annual book of fiction translated into English. Previous winners of the International Booker Prize who have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature include Alice Munro and Olga Tokarczuk. The Neustadt International Prize for Literature is regarded as one of the most prestigious international literary prizes, often referred to as the American equivalent to the Nobel Prize. Like the Nobel Prize, it is awarded not for any one work, but for an entire body of work. It is frequently seen as an indicator of who may be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Gabriel García Márquez (1972 Neustadt, 1982 Nobel), Czesław Miłosz (1978 Neustadt, 1980 Nobel),
Octavio Paz Octavio Paz Lozano (March 31, 1914 – April 19, 1998) was a Mexican poet and diplomat. For his body of work, he was awarded the 1977 Jerusalem Prize, the 1981 Miguel de Cervantes Prize, the 1982 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, and ...

Octavio Paz
(1982 Neustadt, 1990 Nobel), Tomas Tranströmer (1990 Neustadt, 2011 Nobel) were first awarded the Neustadt International Prize for Literature before being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Another award of note is the Spanish Princess of Asturias Award (formerly Prince of Asturias Award) in Letters. During the first years of its existence it was almost exclusively awarded to writers in the Spanish language, but in more recent times writers in other languages have been awarded as well. Writers who have won both the Asturias Award in Letters and the Nobel Prize in Literature include Camilo José Cela, Günter Grass,
Doris Lessing Doris May Lessing (; 22 October 1919 – 17 November 2013) was a British-Zimbabwean (Rhodesian) novelist. She was born to British parents in Qajar Iran, Iran, where she lived until 1925. Her family then moved to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimb ...
and
Mario Vargas Llosa Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa, 1st Marquis of Vargas Llosa (born 28 March 1936), more commonly known as Mario Vargas Llosa (; ), is a Peruvian writer, journalist, essayist, college professor, and a former politician. Vargas Llosa is one of Lati ...

Mario Vargas Llosa
. The America Award in Literature, which does not include a monetary prize, presents itself as an alternative to the Nobel Prize in Literature. To date, Peter Handke, Harold Pinter, José Saramago, and
Mario Vargas Llosa Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa, 1st Marquis of Vargas Llosa (born 28 March 1936), more commonly known as Mario Vargas Llosa (; ), is a Peruvian writer, journalist, essayist, college professor, and a former politician. Vargas Llosa is one of Lati ...

Mario Vargas Llosa
are the only writers to have received both the America Award and the Nobel Prize in Literature. There are also prizes for honouring the lifetime achievement of writers in specific languages, like the Miguel de Cervantes Prize (for Spanish language, established in 1976) and the Camões Prize (for Portuguese language, established in 1989). Nobel laureates who were also awarded the Miguel de Cervantes Prize include
Octavio Paz Octavio Paz Lozano (March 31, 1914 – April 19, 1998) was a Mexican poet and diplomat. For his body of work, he was awarded the 1977 Jerusalem Prize, the 1981 Miguel de Cervantes Prize, the 1982 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, and ...

Octavio Paz
(1981 Cervantes, 1990 Nobel);
Mario Vargas Llosa Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa, 1st Marquis of Vargas Llosa (born 28 March 1936), more commonly known as Mario Vargas Llosa (; ), is a Peruvian writer, journalist, essayist, college professor, and a former politician. Vargas Llosa is one of Lati ...

Mario Vargas Llosa
(1994 Cervantes, 2010 Nobel); and Camilo José Cela (1995 Cervantes, 1989 Nobel). José Saramago is the only author to receive both the Camões Prize (1995) and the Nobel Prize (1998) to date. The Hans Christian Andersen Award is sometimes referred to as "the Little Nobel". The award has earned this appellation since, in a similar manner to the Nobel Prize in Literature, it recognizes the lifetime achievement of writers, though the Andersen Award focuses on a single category of literary works (children's literature).


See also

* The Big Read * List of literary awards * List of Nobel laureates * List of Nobel laureates in Literature * List of nominees for the Nobel Prize in Literature * Lists of 100 best books * Nobel Library * Swedish Academy Nordic Prize * World literature


References


External links


The Nobel Prize Medal for Literature
– Official webpage of the Nobel Foundation. * Graphics: National
Literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expan ...

Literature
Nobel Prize shares 1901–200
by citizenship at the time of the award
an

From Jürgen Schmidhuber, J. Schmidhuber (2010)
Evolution of National Nobel Prize Shares in the 20th Century
a
arXiv:1009.2634v1


– Featured link in "The Nobel Prize Award Ceremonies" on the official site of the Nobel Foundation.
"The rise of the Prize"
– Article by Nilanjana Roy dealing with the history of the award by decade, from the 1900s to the 2000s.
Alternative Nobel literature prize planned in Sweden
{{Authority control Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Prize, *Literature International literary awards Literary awards honoring writers Swedish Academy