After Australian Author Peter Handke won a Nobel Prize in the literature on October 10 along with Olga Tokarczuk from Poland, an outrage erupted in Albania, Bosnia, and Kosovo. Handke was seen as a supporter of late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic in these countries. The Prime Minister of Albania took to Twitter to condemn the writer and said it was a “disgraceful choice” which was made by the authorities. Furthermore, even the 76-year-old author was “astonished” to receive an award and said that he never thought he would be chosen.
The Swedish academy called Handke as one of the “most influential” writers in Europe and praised his work. However, the 76-year-old author had faced criticism for his strong defense of the Serbs during the wars of the 1990s. These wars were also responsible for the devastation of Balkans as Yugoslavia disintegrated and Handke even compared the Serbs to Jews under Nazis. Reportedly, he later retracted the comment. Handke called the former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, who died while facing trials of war crimes in 2006, a “rather tragic man” at his funeral.
He even wrote a travelogue, 'A Journey to the Rivers: Justice for Serbia' even caused an outrage in 1996 and he also returned the Buechner prize in 1999 during the protest at bombing of Belgrade. Handke believed that it was very “courageous” of the award committee to make the decision of honouring him. He further added that they are “good people”. Handke wrote his first novel “The Hornets” in 1966.
People took on Twitter to express their anger, while some of them even said that “protests are coming”. The Muslim member from the joint presidency of Bosnia, Sefik Dzaferovic reportedly called the incident of Handke being awarded a Nobel Prize as 'scandalous' and 'shameful'. In a statement, he even accused the Swedish committee to neglect the fact that the people who Handke was trying to protect have even been sentenced by the United Nations court for most severe crimes including genocide. Dzaferovic further believes that by awarding Handke the Nobel Prize, the officials have also diverged from their moral compass. A Bosnian Actor, Nermic Tulic along with hundreds of others condemned the Swedish academy which praised Handke for writing powerfully about the catastrophe.
Never thought would feel to vomit because of a @NobelPrize but shamelessnes is becoming the normal part of the world we live🤮After disgraceful choice made from a moral authority like the Nobel Academy shame is sealed as a new value👎NO we can’t become so numb to racism&genocide!— Edi Rama (@ediramaal) October 10, 2019
In 2014, Peter Handke was met by protests from survivors from Bosnia and Kosovo in Oslo when he received the Ibsen Prize. He answered them: «Go to hell, where you already are». Today he was awarded the @NobelPrize for literature. pic.twitter.com/19f4YPo86S— Kenneth Andresen (@kennethandresen) October 10, 2019
This is dreadfully disgusting. Handke is a genocide denier who spent the 1990s defending Milošević and other war criminals. He even claimed that Muslims in besieged Sarajevo had staged their own deaths to blame them on the Serbs.— Berta Herrero (@Be_Herrero) October 10, 2019
Shame on you @NobelPrize. Shame on you forever!