Swedish Academy to announce the fate of the 2018 Nobel Literature Prize

Swedish Academy to announce the fate of the 2018 Nobel Literature Prize
Horace Engdahl, a member of the Swedish Academy, arrives at its headquarters. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT
Will there be a Nobel Literature Prize in 2018? The Swedish Academy is expected to announce that on Friday, after it plunged into a crisis over links to a man accused of sexual assault.

Asked if the Academy on Friday would announce whether or not it would select a literature laureate this year, Louise Hedberg told Swedish Radio on Wednesday: “Yes, that's true. There won't be a press conference but we will send out a statement.”

She added the press release would be published “as early as possible” after a meeting by the Academy members.

Contacted by AFP, Hedberg was not immediately available for comment.

FOR MEMBERS: Let's talk about the Swedish Academy's rapid descent into farce

The prestigious institution was rattled when the testimonies of 18 women in November accused a well-known French culture figure – with whom it had close ties – of sexual violence or harassment.

The man in question, Jean-Claude Arnault, denied all accusations. However, the reports also led to a series of other questions raised about the Academy's close ties to his culture venue, including about payouts made to the venue and allegations of names of Nobel Prize winners being leaked in advance.

After failing to contain the fallout, six out of 18 total members resigned, including the permanent secretary Sara Danius and Arnault's wife, poet Katarina Frostensson.

Traditionally, its 18 members are technically appointed for life and cannot resign, but they can choose not to participate. One member has been inactive since 1989 when the Academy refused to condemn a fatwa against Salman Rushdie following the publication of his novel ‘The Satanic Verses'. It did so 27 years later. Another member left the Academy in 2015.

According to its statutes, at least 12 members are needed in order to vote in a new member, triggering a massive headache for the 10 remaining members.

Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf, who is the patron of the Academy founded in 1786, has agreed to change the statutes to allow members to resign and be replaced, thereby ensuring the institution's survival.

The scandal has stirred speculation in the media about the fate of the literature prize, which was given to British author Kazuo Ishiguro last year and to US singer-songwriter Bob Dylan in 2016.

READ ALSO: The Local's article about the Swedish Academy crisis

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