Olga Tokarczuk, Peter Handke win Literature Nobels

Updated: Oct 11, 2019, 08:23 IST | Agencies | Stockholm

Tokarczuk, 57, considered the most talented Polish novelist of her generation, was honoured "for a narrative imagination that with encyclopaedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life"

Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke
Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke

Stockholm: Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk on Thursday won the 2018 Nobel Literature Prize, which was delayed over a sexual harassment scandal, while Austrian novelist and playwright Peter Handke took the 2019 award, the Swedish Academy said.

Tokarczuk, 57, considered the most talented Polish novelist of her generation, was honoured "for a narrative imagination that with encyclopaedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life".

Her books portray a polychromatic world perpetually in motion, with characters' traits intermingled and language that is both precise and poetic. The daughter of a school librarian, she won the Booker International Prize along with her translator Jennifer Croft for her 2007 novel "Flights", whose English version came out in 2017.

Tokarczuk becomes just the 15th woman to have won the prestigious distinction, out of 116 literature laureates honoured since 1901. Her 900-page "The Books of Jacob", which the Swedish Academy hailed as her "magnum opus", spans seven countries, three religions and five languages, tracing the little-known history of Frankism, a Jewish messianic sect that sprang up in Poland in the 18th century.

Handke, 76, was meanwhile honoured "for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience," the Academy said. Ironically, in 2014 Handke called for the Nobel Literature Prize to be abolished, saying it brought its winner "false canonisation". Handke "has established himself as one of the most influential writers in Europe after the Second World War," the Academy said.

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