A Possible Suspension for the Nobel Prize for Literature

The Nobel Prize for Literature will not get awarded in 2019 unless trust has been restored in the Swedish Academy, lately plagued by scandal, says the Executive Director for the Foundation.

This admission came in mere weeks after the Prize for this year had been called off, as allegations of sexual misconduct, repeated leaks, and financial malpractice bore down on the Academy.

Maybe they should take a leaf from bookmakers offering AFL Premiership betting and the like, ensuring total trust and transparency 100% of the time?

Allegations Against Katarina Frostenson’s Husband

On the 4th of May the Swedish Academy announced that there would be no 2018 Nobel Prize for Literature after a series of sexual harassment allegations and claims of abuse were made against Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of Katarina Frostenson, who is a member of the Academy.

The manner in which the Academy handled the allegations, which Arnault of course has denied, led to a number of resignations, leaving it with only ten active members. There are 12 members required to elect new ones! In order to commit the time required to recovering the confidence of the public, the Academy said that it would make two laureates in 2019 rather than award one this year.

It May Take Longer

Although the Nobel Foundation, in charge of fulfilling the will of Alfred Nobel, has come out in support of this decision, Lars Heikensten, the Executive Director, has indicated some doubts as to whether the Academy will be able to get its house in order in the stipulated time period.

Speaking on the Prize website, Heikensten stated that the Academy’s goal is to make its decision for the Nobel Literature Prize in 2018 and announce it together with the one for next year, and that it was hoped that this would come to be. He added, however, that it was totally dependent on the Swedish Academy being able to restore public faith in its proceedings.

Heikensten was clear about the fact that the Swedish Academy needs to cultivate a far more open approach to things in general in order to do this. As a case in point, the manner in which the jury decides on who takes the prize has long remained a very closely guarded secret: it’s archives are only opened 50 years after the decision has been made.

The Academy needs to be able to delineate what kind of measures are being undertaken, and should get help from outside parties in order to solve the problems its facing, according to Heikensten. Among other things, their compliance with issues surrounding confidentiality and rules regarding conflict of interest needs to be reassessed.

It’s Not the First Time This Has Happened

It is not without precedent for these Awards to skip a year, but previous hiatuses have generally been as a result of war, as was the case in 1914, 1918, and 1940. As they scramble to hold on to a shred of dignity, it was announced that the 2018 Awards were merely being postponed as it has been on seven previous occasions.

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