No Nobel Prize This Year: What to Know About the Sex Abuse Scandal Rocking the Literature World

May 4, 2018, 9:34 AM UTC

The Nobel Prize in Literature will not be awarded this year.

Following a scandal surrounding allegations of sexual assault by Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of former Swedish Academy member Katarina Frostenson, the academy has decided to postpone the award ceremony. The 2018 winner will now be announced with the 2019 winner next year.

Last year, 18 women accused Arnault of having sexually assaulted or harassed them. A subsequent report emerged that he had groped Sweden’s crown princess Victoria. Many of the incidents reportedly occurred on the property of the Swedish Academy. As a result, Arnault’s wife Frostenson was removed from the Swedish Academy.

The academy’s head and four other members subsequently resigned, from a position that is typically held for life. The resignations leave the academy with just 10 active members. Typically, 12 members are required for a quorum.

Due to the scandal and the diminished size of the academy, the Swedish Academy formally announced the postponement of the prize Friday morning.

“The active members of the Swedish Academy are of course fully aware that the present crisis of confidence places high demands on a long term and robust work for change,” said Anders Olsson, interim permanent secretary of the academy.

“We find it necessary to commit time to recovering public confidence in the Academy before the next laureate can be announced. This is out of respect for previous and future literature laureates, the Nobel Foundation, and the general public.”

The Swedish Academy has declared a “reserved prize” seven other times. In five of those instances, the prize was awarded concurrently with the following year’s prize. The prize was not awarded at all six years over the course of the two world wars.

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