Nobel Prize for Literature called off for first time since WWII

Cancellation of this year’s award follows committee resignations over handling of sexual assault claims

The annual Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded since 1901

The Nobel Prize for Literature will not be awarded in 2018 - the first year that the honour has not been bestowed since the Second World War.

The Swedish Academy, which selects the winner of the annual prize, says it needs time to regroup and regain its credibility following the resignations of multiple committee members over the organisation’s handling of sexual assault allegations.

The row centres on 18 allegations of sexual assault against French photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, who has received funding from the Academy and whose wife, author Katarina Frostenson, was a committee member until quitting over the scandal.

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The accusers include Academy members and their relatives, and some of the alleged assaults occurred during Swedish Academy functions.

Among the accusations are that he touched Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria inappropriately at a Swedish Academy event over a decade ago”, CNN reports. Arnaut denies any wrongdoing.

The Academy severed ties with Arnault shortly after the allegations surfaced late last year, but controversially voted not to remove Frostenson from the committee.

“Accused of conflict of interest and dealing with further scandal surrounding the leaking of Nobel winner’s names, a string of members exited their posts”, including Academy head Professor Sara Danius, says The Independent.

A total of six of the body’s 18 members, who are elected to their positions for life, have stepped down in recent months.

In a statement this morning, the Academy’s permanent secretary, Anders Olsson, said that “in view of the currently diminished Academy and the reduced public confidence”, the decision had been made to cancel this year’s ceremony.

It will be only the eighth time in the award’s 117-year history that no winner has been named. “On five of those occasions, the prize was delayed then awarded at the same time as the following year’s prize,” the Academy said in a statement.

Discussions to select this year’s laureate had reached an “advanced stage”, Olsson said, and the committee hopes to choose two winners in 2019.

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