The foundation behind the Nobel Prize in literature said Tuesday the winners of the 2019 and the delayed 2018 editions of the prestigious award will both be announced in October by the Swedish Academy, saying that the scandal-rocked body has revamped itself and restored trust.
The Nobel Foundation had warned that another group could be picked to award the prize if the academy did not improve its tarnished image.
The foundation said it “believes that the steps that the Swedish Academy has taken and intends to take will create good opportunities for restoring trust in the academy as a prize-awarding institution,” according to a statement.
It said “several important changes” have been made, including making it possible for members to resign, the election of new members, and the departure of another academy member, meaning that “the academy no longer includes any members who are subject to conflict of interest or criminal investigations.”
The foundation said “it will take time to fully restore confidence,” but added: “The prerequisites for this are now good.”
The literature prize was cancelled last year after a mass exodus at the exclusive Swedish Academy following sex abuse allegations. Jean-Claude Arnault, husband of a former academy member, was convicted last year for two rapes in 2011. Arnault allegedly also leaked the name of Nobel Prize literature winners seven times.
The academy announced May 4 that the prize would be not awarded in 2018 “in view of the currently diminished academy and the reduced public confidence.” It was the first time since wartime 1943 that the prestigious award was not handed out.
The academy on Tuesday said Horace Engdahl, a supporter of Arnault who had labeled fellow academy members who were critical of him a “clique of sore losers,” has resigned.
An academy member since 1997, Engdahl had lashed out at Sara Danius in a scathing editorial where he accused her of being the academy’s worst permanent secretary ever. She formally quit last month, a year after announcing she was stepping down from the secretive 18-member body.
In his will, Swedish industrialist and inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel specifically designated the Swedish Academy as the institution responsible for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Other institutions in Sweden and Norway were given the task to find winners for the other Nobel Prizes.
The winners are announced in October and the Nobel Prizes are always presented on the Dec. 10 anniversary of Nobel’s death in 1896.
Jan M. Olsen, The Associated Press