PEN America expressed ‘’deep regret’’ over the Swedish Academy’s choice of Peter Handke for the Nobel Prize for Literature 2019.
In a statement issued, PEN America stated, that the award will be considered an exception due to his reputation as a writer who has used his public voice to undercut historical truth and offer public succor to perpetrators of genocide, like former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. Their statement threw light on the rising nationalism, autocratic leadership, and widespread disinformation around the world. They demanded that the literary community deserved a better choice rather than someone who has documented war crimes to be celebrated for his “linguistic ingenuity.” Salman Rushdie, Hari Kunzru, Slavoj Žižek, and other literary figures have also expressed their dismay over the choice of this year’s Nobel Literature Laureate.
The academy had cancelled last year’s prize in Literature due to after a scandal-hit year that had several members of the prestigious Academy stepping down from their posts. Following the recent criticisms faced by the Academy, Mats Malmthe academy’s permanent secretary, told the New York Times that Handke was chosen on literary and aesthetic grounds.
PEN America is the largest of the more than 100 centers worldwide that make up the PEN International network. It works to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others.