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Two new members join scandal-ridden Swedish Academy

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Two new members join scandal-ridden Swedish Academy
Jila Mossaed and Eric M Runesson. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/Janerik Henriksson/TT
16:15 CEST+02:00
The Swedish Academy has elected new members for two of its empty seats.

The Swedish Academy voted on Thursday to induct laywer Eric M Runesson and writer Jila Mossaed as new members of the two-century-old cultural institution, which hands out the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Runesson, a business lawyer, got his Bachelor degree at Stockholm University and his Master of Laws at Harvard Law School. He is a docent at the Stockholm School of Economics, an arbitrator for the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes and judge on Sweden's Supreme Court.

Mossead, from Teheran, is an award-winning poet who came to Sweden in 1986. She has published two novels and six poetry collections in Persian and seven poetry collections in Swedish.

The pair will join the Academy on its annual meeting on December 20th.

They replace Lotta Lotass, who left the institution in 2015 and Kerstin Ekman who quit in 1989 after fellow members refused to issue a statement condemning the fatwa against Salman Rushdie.

Until recently, membership has been considered a lifetime honour. However, following a series of mass resignations earlier this year, the statutes were changed to allow members to leave and be replaced.

Another six chairs are currently empty, with some members having left permanently and some taking a hiatus after the Academy failed to agree on how to handle rape allegations against Jean Claude Arnault – an influential figure on Stockhom's cultural scene with close links to several Academy members.

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In ruins and without a quorum to make key decisions, the Academy postponed this year's Nobel Literature Prize, a first in 70 years, saying it would instead hand out two Nobel Prizes next year.

However, the head of the Nobel Foundation warned in an interview that if the Academy does not take radical steps to rectify the scandal, responsibility for the prize may be handed to another organization.

 
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