Women in Nobel Literature

The Nobel prize has always been a male dominated world. 51 one in total have been awarded to women since the awards inception in 1901 to put this in perspective the total number of laureates 904 individuals receiving the range of prizes in:

The committee were forced to postpone the literature prize in 2018 due to a scandal including rape allegations against one of the panellists and accusations of leaked winning names. The institution has now pledged transparency and has appointed several outsider parties to the the judging panel in an attempt to improve public perception of the nominations.

To me its a huge shame that something so important can be marred by intolerance and ignorance. The board was created to recognise the achievements of some of the most talented people in their field, it should not matter what race or sex they are they should be recognised whatever, but more importantly they should be considered. The 51 women who have won have broken through the mould and expectations are an inspiration to us all because they have shown what can be achieved.

The fact that the Committee has to take time to create a more transparent situation and rebuild the public’s confidence only indicates that they had continued the blinkered existence that men dominate academic fields as women have been overlooked for some long time. In a world where we can now make a point of holding people accountable via social media, their decision to award 2 consecutive years of the literature prize at the same time has been a controversial, a woman won 2018 Olga Tokarczuk (described as the dreadlocked female author the institution needed) and Peter Handke won the 2019 prize, authors have criticised Peter’s award as ‘troubling’ it goes against the institutions assertion they would be taking a fallow year to reconsider their position, Olga Tokarczuk is only the 15th female literature in the 120 years of the award. Hanke also has a history of misguided nationalism stemming from his Slovenian heritage, Hari Kunzru describes him “He is a fine writer, who combines great insight with shocking ethical blindness.”  In 1999, Salman Rushdie named him the runner-up for “International moron of the year” in the Guardian, for his “series of impassioned apologias for the genocidal regime of Slobodan Milošević.”

It seems to me that the Nobel committee felt forced into making a decision and announcing the awards without actually taking the fallow year and considering their approach and position. Only time will tell as to whether they have actually changed their ways or if we will be slipping back into a similar ways again.

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