May 1, 2018

The Nobel Prize in Literature may not be awarded this year


Man, oh man.

In recent weeks, we’ve been following the ongoing drama at the Swedish Academy, which awards each year’s Nobel Prize in Literature. It’s been a mess. Well, now things have gotten much worse.

In the wake of a sexual misconduct scandal that saw seven of the Academy’s eighteen members resign their lifetime appointments amid large-scale public protests, the remaining eleven members will be voting on whether or not to award a Nobel in 2018 at all.

According to Richard Orange writing at the Guardian, a subcommittee within the Academy led by writer Per Wästberg has stated that a prior meeting to address the question ended without a decision. Another meeting will be held on Thursday.

As we’ve previously reported, the Academy has little experience with situations of this kind, and it looks as though some big changes may be coming, including the possible imposition of term limits on Academy members. Wästberg has also raised another possibility: “After our next Thursday meeting there will most probably be a statement on whether we will award a prize this year or reserve it for next year, in which case two prizes for literature will be announced in October 2019.”

We shall be waiting with breaths of diminishing returns, or something like that. In the meantime, here’s hoping the Swedish Academy sorts itself out. And if that means the removal of those members who voted to give Bob Dylan the prize a couple years back, I wouldn’t protest that (elsewhere I have written a screed against the decision), though my editor might.


Editor’s note: Michael is right about many things, but he is wrong about Bob Dylan’s Nobel, which is tied with Olof Palme, Esbjörn Svensson, and dredging up immense sunken warships for the greatest thing Sweden has done.



Michael Barron is an editor at Melville House.