Nobel Prize for Literature 2018 & 2019: Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke win respectively

Last year, owing to a sexual harassment scandal, no prize was awarded.

After much anticipation, recipients of the Nobel Prize for Literature for the year 2018 and 2019 have been announced. Polish author Olga Tokarczuk and Austrian author Peter Handke have won respectively. Last year, owing to a sexual harassment scandal, no prize was awarded.

Tokarczuk has been awarded the Nobel Prize “for a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life”. The prolific Austrian novelist, on the other hand, has been conferred this prestigious prize for “[t]he peculiar art of Peter Handke, awarded the 2019 #NobelPrize in Literature, is the extraordinary attention to landscapes and the material presence of the world, which has made cinema and painting two of his greatest sources of inspiration.” Handke has written novels like A Sorrow Beyond Dreams, Short Letter, Long Farewell.

Tokarczuk, the author of Flights, had also won the prestigious Man Booker International Prize last year. Translated by Jennifer Croft, her novel interweaves diverse stories of travelling, mobility and movement and uses them as a metaphor for life itself. The novel was originally published in 2008 and Tokarczuk’s work stands out for departing from form and conventions. Narratives as different as tracing the posthumous journey of Polish composer Chopin’s heart to Warsaw from Paris where he had died, or anatomist Philip Verheyen writing letters to his amputated leg find centrestage in her work as she infuses it with digressions and anecdotes. Flights is the third book by her that has been translated in English, and since then has received much acclaim.

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