Nobel Prizes in Literature: the right winners?

Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke received the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2018 and 2019 respectively in Stockholm on Saturday. Handke, whom critics accuse of trivialising Serbian war crimes, declined to address the topic at the press conference and lached out at journalists who asked about it. Commentators are appalled - at the laureate, but also at the Nobel Committee.

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Der Standard (AT) /

The poet as a know-it-all

Peter Handke failed to appease his critics with his speech, criticises Der Standard:

“'A gesture of reconciliation' Handke had announced in advance. By this he was referring to the idea of meeting a Bosnian and a Serbian mother who had each lost a child in the war. According to his own statement he was denied that. There were many other potentially conciliatory gestures he could have made. But Handke didn't. The poet as a seeker of dialogue - this picture is clearly not intended for Handke. The public will have to live with that. And with a Nobel Prize winner who wants to be a know-it-all even at the crowning of his life as a poet.”

Habertürk (TR) /

An Islamophobic committee

The Nobel Prize committee has a reason for ignoring those who protest against the award going to Peter Handke, Habertürk writes:

“The answer lies in the fact that the Muslims were the victims in the Bosnian massacre! ... If Christians and not Muslims had been murdered in Srebrenica and other places, and if the killers had been Muslims, Handke would not have had the courage to side with the murderers, and the callous members of the Nobel Committee would not have selected him for the award. By choosing Peter Handke, who was already sullied by scandals, the Committee is now covered in the same filth that Peter Handke has never stopped repeating.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Tokarczuk exposes modern propaganda

Olga Tokarczuk is the epitome of what every right-wing nationalist hates, Dagens Nyheter declares:

“She is a feminist, she is politically active for the green cause and she highlights Poland's multi-ethnic and not least its Jewish history. PiS representatives have branded her a 'traitor'. And now she has received the Nobel Prize in Literature, three days before the Polish elections. ... It says something about developments in Poland if 30 years after the fall of communism the Nobel Prize goes to a political dissident. In an interview with our newspaper she even draws parallels between the situation in Poland then and now. Under communism everyone knew that only lies were to be seen on television. Now it is worse. The propaganda has become cleverer.” (PL) /

A falsifier of Polish history

The nationalist Onlineportal responds with outrage to the prize being awarded to Tokarczuk:

“So this is the kind of image of Poland that the world likes! An image that is promoted and awarded the most distinguished prizes. The Nobel Prize for Olga Tokarczuk fits in with this trend. With an international mandate she will feel even more comfortable about rewriting our history and portraying Poland as a country of colonialists, slave-owners and murderers of Jews . ... Left-wing artists are all the rage nowadays. Embedding creativity and social activism in an anti-conservative, left-wing or feminist trend is becoming ever more widespread. [According to this trend] the world of art and literature has the task of shaping opinions, portraying a new world and encouraging activism. The more left-wing the message, the simpler it will be to build a new order.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Poet of the century deserves the prize

Despite taking Serbia's side in the Yugoslav wars Peter Handke deserves the Nobel Prize, Die Presse argues:

“Should an outstanding poet, who from the point of view of political correctness has made himself a politically useful idiot for politically evil forces, also be declared persona non grata in the realm of poetry? That would make it a very limited realm. ... Some of Peter Handke's many varied and exquisite works have long since joined the ranks of world literature in which he has his own, unique, and apparently permanent voice. Of course it is sad that this poet lost his way in the tangle of the Balkan conflict, but that should not be sufficient reason to exclude him from being honoured in Stockholm. ... Peter Handke deserves the prize, for he is at least half a poet of the century.”

La Stampa (IT) /

By voting for Handke the jury has betrayed Alfred Nobel

Columnist Gianni Riotta, on the other hand, describes the jury's decision as a historic mistake in La Stampa:

“It has betrayed the intentions of the founder by ignoring Peter Handke's scandalous militant, propagandistic, vain support for the war criminal Slobodan Milošević at the end of the last century. ... Handke denied the Serbian militias' ruthless ethnic cleansing and donned the clothes of the executioners. ... In 1996, when thousands of people from Bosnia to Kosovo were suffering dreadfully, the writer wrote some nonsense in the Süddeutsche Zeitung about an alleged plot by 'the international press' to 'sell the Serbs to readers as the bad guys and the Muslims as eternally good'.”