Nobel Prize in Literature will not be awarded this year

Nobel Literature Prize will not be awarded this year, the Swedish Academy (pictured) announced on Friday as it tries to address an ongoing sex abuse scandal that forced some members to step aside, German media reported.

The 2018 winner would be named in parallel with the naming of the 2019 laureate, the academy said.

The decision was made due to the “currently diminished academy and the reduced public confidence in the academy,” a statement read.

This is not the first time the academy has reserved the prize. Between 1901 and 1949, it had reserved the prize on seven occasions. On five occasions, the prize was awarded at the same time as the following year’s prize.

The academy is facing a sex scandal after 18 women in newspaper Dagens Nyheter alleged they were sexually harassed by Jean-Claude Arnault, husband of one of the academy’s members, poet Katarina Frostenson.

A law firm was commissioned in November to investigate the charges against Arnault who denied the allegations.

Frostenson was alleged to have violated the academy’s conflict-of-interest rules by failing to disclose she was co-owner of a performance venue run by her husband, which formerly received funding from the academy.

After a vote to exclude Frostenson failed, several members stepped aside. Eight of the 18 members are no longer active, including Sara Danius, the first woman to head the academy since 1786.

According to the rules, the academy members, who are appointed for life,  are expected to keep their status even if some of them do not participate in the body actively. The palace will have to change the clauses if members want to resign.

The Nobel Foundation said on Friday it supported the Swedish Academy’s decision to postpone naming a Nobel literature laureate in 2018.

“Their decision underscores the seriousness of the situation and will help safeguard the long-term reputation of the Nobel Prize,” said the foundation.

The academy created in 1786 by King Gustav III is a towering symbol of culture. Since 1901, it has honoured 114 laureates.

However, the clash between Danius and Frostenson has left the academy divided. One Swedish newspaper recently said the power struggle in the academy tops a Shakespearean drama.

King Carl XVI Gustaf, patron of the academy, is concerned and said he will have the final say on the statutes of the academy.