Source : Times of India
The Swedish Academy suffered a scandal as Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of one of the academy’s members, was accused and then convicted of rape. The Academy announced there would be no Nobel Prize in Literature and in response The New Academy was founded, to ensure that a prize would be awarded. On their website they explain, “The New Academy was founded to warrant that an international literary prize will be awarded in 2018, but also as a reminder that literature should be associated with democracy, openness, empathy, and respect. In a time when human values are increasingly being called into question, literature becomes the counterforce of oppression and a code of silence.”
They are referred to as the Alternative Nobel Prize, however, their selection process differs from the Swedish Academy’s. In the first step, librarians from Sweden were invited to nominate authors for the prize. The only criteria for the authors were that they have two books published, one of which should have released in the last ten years.
The next step was a worldwide voting for the nominees with the most votes. Finally, a panel chose the winner. The panel was Lisbeth Larsson, Peter Stenson, Gunilla Sandin with Ann Pålsson as the President.
On October 12th, the winner was announced in a simple ceremony in a library. Maryse Condé was chosen over Neil Gaiman and Kim Thúy (Haruki Murakami was also nominated but he withdrew).
Maryse Condé has written several books over her lifetime. She writes in French but many of her books have been translated into English. She is best known for the books I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem about a woman condemned during the Salem witch trials and Windward Heights, a Caribbean reimagining of Wuthering Heights.
On announcing her victory they played a video of her expressing her delight on winning and the fact it highlighted her country. “We are such a small country, only mentioned when there are hurricanes or earthquakes and things like that. Now we are so happy to be recognised for something else.” She said.
Besides the honour, the victor is awarded one million kronor (INR 82,22,200).
The selection process of the victor has received both praise and criticism but, as it’s name suggests, it’s a good alternative to the Nobel and it’s a pity The New Academy will dissolve in December.