The Nobel Prize in Literature and #MeToo

May 8, 2018 | Viveca

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 Medal designed by Erik Lindberg, Wikipedia Creative Commons

The Swedish Academy has postponed the 2018 Nobel Prize for Literature amid shocking #MeToo allegations. The details have been widely covered in The New York TimesThe Guardian, The Toronto Star and The New Yorker.  Jean-Claude Arnault, a French photographer married to Nobel Prize judge Katarina Frostenson, has been accused of sexual assault and harassment by 18 women (including the Crown Princess of Sweden) as a result of his connection to the Academy. Swedish Academy members resigned over perceived failures to act over the allegations. Accusations about ethical violations for financial gain resulted in more resignations.

But here's the thing: one does not simply resign from the Swedish Academy. And if you do, you are not replaced. Judges of the Nobel Prize in Literature are appointed for life, which many find unsettling. Who is appointed for life outside of the monarchy? Or ABBA*? Inevitably, some journalists have even questioned whether the Nobel Prize in Literature should still be a thing. In the meantime, this major literary event is put on hold.   

Depressing news – but perhaps not surprising considering the systemic and pervasive rot revealed by the #MeToo movement.  The literary world is certainly not exempt. Allegations have been leveled against the late David Foster Wallace, YA authors James Dashner and Jay Asher, Sherman Alexie, and most recently at Pulitzer-Prize winning author, Junot Díaz.

Toronto Public Library has an excellent reading list of books about women, power and the movement to expose and eradicate gender-based violence and harassment. Also browse our list of past winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Further reading about the Nobel Prize available at Toronto Public Library: 

Losing the Nobel Prize

 "Losing the Nobel Prize: A Story of Cosmology, Ambition, and the Perils of Science's Highest Honor" by Brian Keating

How To Win the Nobel Prize in Literature

"How to Win the Nobel Prize in Literature:  A Handbook for the Would-Be Laureate" by David R. Carter

The Nobel Peace Prize


"The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted" by Fredrik S. Heffermehl

The Nobel Prize

"The Nobel Prize: A History of Genius, Controversy and Genius" by Burton Feldman

Canada and the Nobel Prize

"Canada and the Nobel Prize: Biographies, Portraits and Fascinating Facts" by Harry Black


* Some good news coming out of Sweden:  ABBA has announced the release of new songs after a 35-year hiatus.  

Related links:  

2017: Kazuo Ishiguro Awarded Nobel Prize for Literature

Bob Dylan: Winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature