October 10, 2019

The two recipients of the 2018 and 2019 Nobel prize in literature have just been unveiled.

The 2019 Nobel prize in literature was given to Peter Handke, an Austrian author honored "for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience," the Swedish Academy announced Thursday.

Meanwhile, the 2018 Nobel prize in literature, which wasn't given out last year, went to Olga Tokarczuk, a Polish author honored "for a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life." Tokarczuk previously won the prestigious Man Booker International prize in 2018 for her novel Flights. She is just the 15th woman to ever win the Nobel prize in literature, ABC News notes, and BBC News writes she's "considered the leading Polish novelist of her generation."

The Guardian reports that Handke's selection is a "more controversial decision than Tokarczuk," noting that he "famously gave a speech at the 2006 funeral of Serbian war criminal Slobodan Milošević, a decision that was criticised widely."

The Swedish Academy chose not to award a Nobel prize in literature in 2018 following a scandal involving sexual assault allegations, with the organization announcing, "we find it necessary to commit time to recovering public confidence in the academy before the next laureate can be announced." The Washington Post notes that it's not unprecedented for two authors to win the Nobel prize in literature in one year, and it occurred most recently in 1974, although unlike in that case, Handke and Tokarczuk won't be sharing the prize. Brendan Morrow

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