In a shock decision there was no Nobel Prizes this year after the Academy fought off a scandal centred round Jean-Claude Arnault. Arnault’s wife Katarina Frostenson is a well known poet and sits on the Academy. Sara Danius, the first woman to lead the Academy led the protest but those who wanted to play down the scandal ousted her from her post.
The scandal continued with many members resigning in protest, leaving the Academy in crisis due to its own rules. It looked as though the entire Nobel Prize Academy might have been disbanded forever but it was ultimately saved, although 2018 will be the first year in 69 years that the awards have not been given.
The details of the scandal were vague but this week a Swedish prosecutor in Stockholm has brought rape charges against Jean-Claude Arnault, bringing to light the seriousness of the scandal.
Arnault has long been considered the cultural gatekeeper in Sweden and beyond, running the Forum in Stockholm and receiving financial support from the 232 year old Swedish Academy. He is married to one academy member and is close to others but as more women come forward, the scandal has become too big to sweep under the rug.
A number of women have come forward and accused Arnault of using his sway in the arts world and his connections to the Academy to pressure young women in the arts to have sex. As many as 18 women have come forward, but some crimes happened too long ago to be dealt with in Swedish law. However, Arnault has been charged with two counts of rape, both involving the same woman in a case that dates back to 2011. It’s also thought the number of women involved may be much higher but artists are scared to speak out for fear of ruining their reputation for speaking out against the well respected behemoth that is the Swedish Academy.
The episode has put Arnault at the heart of the prominent #MeToo movement in Sweden, and even Crown Princess Victoria came forward to say Arnault had groped her at an event.
The respected Academy cancelled this year’s prizes in light of the scandal the first time this has happened since 1949. Then, two prizes were awarded in 1950, but Lars Heikensten, director of the Nobel Foundation, said in a radio interview there might not be a literature prize next year, either as the Swedish Academy needs to do much more to win back the public’s trust.
In August four authors were shortlisted, Haruki Murakami of Japan, who soon withdrew himself from the competition, Vietnamese-Canadian writer Kim Thúy; Maryse Condé of Guadeloupe; and British author Neil Gaiman who is based in the USA.
The winners for each category will be announced on November 14th, but for now let’s take a look at those finalists and the books that made the final cut.
Last weekend at a glittering award ceremony the 2018 winner was announced as Hannah Lynn for her book The Afterlife of Walter Augustus. She was handed the award by celebrity judge Lorraine Kelly and will now receive a host of prizes and benefits.
The scandal first came to light last November when the Dagens Nyheter newspaper wrote of allegations by 18 different women all accusing Arnault of rape, sexual harassment, physical abuse and harassment over a period of more than 20 years. Eight of those women filed formal complaints however, all but one have been dropped due to lack of evidence or exceeding the statute of limitations.
The 72 yr old ‘photographer’ denies all charges and his lawyer has stated he will appeal if convicted.
We have that shortlist here so without further ado here are the books in the running for the 2018 Man Booker prize.
The 2018 winner will be announced on Tuesday 16th October, about a month from now in London’s Guildhall. The winning ceremony will be aired on the BBC and we’ll bring you news of that winner as soon as it breaks!