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Why this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature may be cancelled for the first time since World War II

The Nobel Prize for Literature is voted on and awarded in October. But a string of resignations by members of the committee that decides the winner has put the future of the award in jeopardy.

  The Nobel Prize for Literature may be cancelled this year following six members of the Swedish Academy stepping down over allegations of sexual assault and harassment against the husband of a former Academy member. French photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, who is married to former Academy member Katarina Frostenson, has been accused of sexual misconduct by 18 women in November. The alleged incidents reportedly happened at properties owned by the Academy. And last week, Swedish paper Svenska Dagbladet, citing three eyewitnesses, claimed that Arnault had groped Crown Princess Victoria at an Academy event in 2006, a charge that has been denied by the photographer. The Royal Family did not comment on the incident but issued a statement extending support for the #MeToocampaigm.

What had sparked the string of resignations from the members was the Academy’s 18-member committee’s decision to vote against removing Frostenson from her role. The committee’s head, professor Sara Danius, was among those who stepped down in protest. Members of the Academy, technically, cannot resign as they are nominated to the positions for life. They, however, can stop taking part in the Academy’s activities.

The remaining 11 members are yet to decide on the fate of the Literature prize, which is awarded in October. A decision on this is expected on Thursday. In case they decide to cancel this year’s award, then it would be the first time since World War Two that the Academy has failed to award a Nobel Prize for Literature.



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