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Nobel Prize in Literature Will Not Be Awarded This Year


In this photo dated Friday, April 17, 2015, a national library employee shows the gold Nobel Prize medal awarded to the late novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in Bogota, Colombia. The Swedish Academy said Friday that the 2018 prize for literature will be given in 2019.
Nobel Prize in Literature Will Not Be Awarded This Year
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The Nobel Prize in literature will not be awarded this year, after accusations of wrongdoing against the Swedish Academy. The organization chooses the winner.

The Swedish Academy said Friday that the 2018 prize will be given in 2019. Members made the decision at a weekly meeting in Stockholm a day earlier. Anders Olsson, the Academy’s permanent secretary, said the group needed time to rebuild public trust before choosing the next laureate.

He said the academy made the decision, in his words, “out of respect for previous and future literature laureates, the Nobel Foundation and the general public.”

Nobel Prizes are awarded in science, medicine, literature and peacemaking. Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel provided money for their establishment after his death.

This will be the first time since 1949 that the award has been delayed. Last year, Japanese-born British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro won the prize.

Sex-abuse hits the academy

The problems at the Swedish Academy began last fall. Jean-Claude Arnault, an important artist in Sweden, was accused of sexual abuse.

Arnault leads a cultural center for which the Academy provided financial support. He is also the husband of Academy member, poet Katarina Frostenson.

In November of 2016, a major Swedish newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, reported about 18 women who accused Arnault of sex abuse.

He has also been accused of violating Nobel secrecy rules. He reportedly released the identity of winners before official announcements at least seven times.

Anders Olsson, the acting permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, announces that the Swedish Academy postpones the award of 2018 Nobel literature prize, during an interview to the Swedish news agency TT News Agency, in Stockholm, Sweden, May 4, 2018.
Anders Olsson, the acting permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, announces that the Swedish Academy postpones the award of 2018 Nobel literature prize, during an interview to the Swedish news agency TT News Agency, in Stockholm, Sweden, May 4, 2018.

Arnault’s lawyer Bjorn Hurtig has denied the accusations. He told the Associated Press that his Arnault is the victim of “a witch hunt” and that the accusations “may only have the purpose of harming” him.

Needing time to rebuild

The academy later admitted in a report that “unacceptable behavior in the form of unwanted intimacy” took place among its members. However, its poor management of the behavior damaged the organization’s trustworthiness. It also led to the resignation of its first female leader, Sara Danius.

A debate about how to deal with the accusations divided the Academy’s 18 members, who are appointed to life terms. Later, seven members decided to leave or distance themselves from the group.

The Academy released a statement that said members would reexamine operating polices at this week’s meeting.

The Nobel Foundation quickly answered, saying it believes the academy will put all its efforts into rebuilding its trustworthiness.

Carl-Henrik Heldin, chairman of the Nobel Foundation Board, said in a statement that he also believes the Academy members realize their changes need to include “greater openness toward the outside world.”

Sara Danius, Professor of Aesthetics, makes the traditional speech over her precursor Knut Ahnlund at the annual meeting of the Swedish Academy in the Old Town of Stockholm, Sweden
Sara Danius, Professor of Aesthetics, makes the traditional speech over her precursor Knut Ahnlund at the annual meeting of the Swedish Academy in the Old Town of Stockholm, Sweden

Past Delays

The Nobel Prize has been suspended 49 times since the prizes began in 1901, usually the result of war.

Swedish Academy member Goran Malmqvist told Sweden’s TT news agency that the delay was “a really good decision.”

“We’re in a crisis and it will take time to rebuild it again,” he said. He added that the academy must be more open to the media, but at the same time not leak the name of the winner.

I’m Phil Dierking.

This story was originally reported by Jan M. Olsen for the Associated Press. Phil Dierking adapted this story for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

How do you think the Nobel Academy can rebuild its reputation? Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

previous - adj. existing or happening before the present time​

novelist - n. a person who writes novels -- books that are usually about imaginary characters and events

intimacy - n. emotional warmth and closeness​

management - n. the act or skill of controlling and making decisions about a business, department, sports team, etc.​

witch hunt - n. the act of unfairly looking for and punishing people who are accused of having opinions that are believed to be dangerous or evil

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