The Nobel Prize in literature has been awarded to Polish author Olga Tokarczuk and Austrian author Peter Handke for the year 2018 and 2019 respectively. Tokarczuk received the award “for a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life”, while Handke got the coveted prize “for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience”.
Olga Tokarczuk, born in 1962 in Sulechów in Poland, made her debut as a fiction writer in 1993 with Podróz ludzi Księgi (”The Journey of the Book-People”). Tokarczuk’s third novel Prawiek i inne czasy 1996 (Primeval and Other Times, 2010), was a family saga in several succeeding generations set in a mythical place.
"The magnum opus of Literature Laureate Olga Tokarczuk so far is the impressive historical novel ‘Księgi Jakubowe’ 2014 (‘The Books of Jacob’). She has in this work showed the supreme capacity of the novel to represent a case almost beyond human understanding," said the Foundation.
Peter Handke was born in Kärnten region in southern Austria in 1942. A student of law at the University of Graz, Handke dropped out of college after his first book Die Hornissen (1966), an experimental “double fiction”, got published. Handke has contributed extensively in the field of novels, essays, dramatic works and screenplays.
"More than fifty years later, having produced a great number of works in different genres, 2019 Literature Laureate Peter Handke has established himself as one of the most influential writers in Europe after the Second World War," tweeted the Nobel Prize official account.
The Academy had, earlier, decided to announce two Nobel Prize for literature after the last year’s award got postponed due to the sexual assault controversy. After the controversy, the Academy elected new members for the selection committee and also made amendments to include five independent external members. The composition of the committee was changed to ensure that no member related to such controversial incidents are included.“The new system is applied to both the 2018 and 2019 prizes,” said the Nobel Foundation.