The world will have to wait a little bit longer to find out who won the 2018 Nobel Prize for Literature.
The Swedish Academy, the institution responsible for awarding the prize, announced today that it is postponing the announcement of the literature award in the wake of a sexual harassment and assault scandal. The academy intends to present the award in 2019, announcing two winners at once.
In November 2017, photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, who is the husband of academy member Katarina Frostenson and received funding from the academy for some of his work, was accused of sexual harassment and assault by 18 women, according to an investigation published by Swedish paper Dagens Nyheter. Some of the alleged incidents took place at properties owned by the academy. (Arnault denies the allegations.) Resignations and infighting at the academy has followed.
The prize has been postponed before. The Swedish Academy postponed the prize seven times in the past; in 1915, 1919, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1936 and 1949. In those occasions, the prize was usually awarded the following year.
The academy said that the organization’s “operative practices need to be evolved.” The secretive organization has somewhat of antiquated approach to literary prize-giving. The academy appoints its members for life by a secret ballot and approval from the Swedish king. Following a spate of resignations, the academy lacks the quorum necessary to elect new members.
“The present decision was arrived at in view of the currently diminished Academy and the reduced public confidence in the Academy,” the institution said in a statement. “Work on the selection of a laureate is at an advanced stage and will continue as usual in the months ahead but the Academy needs time to regain its full complement, engage a larger number of active members and regain confidence in its work, before the next Literature Prize winner is declared.”
The Nobel Prizes for other categories are not impacted by this decision, and will go ahead as planned later this year.