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Choice to award Peter Handke Nobel Prize is regrettable and distressing to victims

Friday 11 October 2019 - 11:40am

Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke won the 2018 and 2019 Nobel Prizes in Literature

PEN International issues the following statement from International President Jennifer Clement in response to the awarding of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Literature to Austrian author Peter Handke:

'The Nobel prize for literature does not only recognise the literary works and prowess of a writer, but also legitimises the entire body of a writer’s work, including any works which comment on current affairs. As PEN members we are dedicated to embodying the principles of our Charter. We work to ‘dispel all hatreds and to champion the ideal of one humanity living in peace and equality in one world.’ The Academy’s choice to recognise an author who has repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of well-documented war crimes is highly regrettable, particularly as it will, no doubt, be distressing to the many victims. At a time when leaders and public figures sow division and intolerance, and court populism, we must celebrate the works and voices of those among us who seek to do the opposite.'