Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk yesterday won the 2018 Nobel Literature Prize, which was delayed over a sexual harassment scandal, while Austrian novelist and playwright Peter Handke took the 2019 award, the Swedish Academy said.
Experts had predicted the Academy would go to great pains to steer clear of controversy with its pick of laureates, as it seeks to restore its reputation tainted by the scandal. But Handke, 76, was quickly seen as a divisive choice for his pro-Serb support in the Balkan wars.
Tokarczuk, 57, considered the most talented Polish novelist of her generation, was honoured “for a narrative imagination that with encyclopaedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life”.
She told Swedish Radio she “couldn’t believe” she had won, and was pleased to share it with Handke, “my favourite writer”. “It looks like central Europe is still alive despite all those political problems in our part of the world, and we still have something to say to the world,” she said.