Home >industry >8 interesting facts about the Nobel prize in literature

The Nobel Committee is set to announce the winner of the coveted literature prize on Thursday. Here are some facts about the annual award:

1) In 1909, Selma Legerlof became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature. One of her best known works is Jerusalem, which in 1996 was adapted into a movie by the same name.

2) Rabindranath Tagore was the first non-European or non-white recipient of the Nobel Prize (in any category). Tagore was awarded the 1913 Nobel Prize in literature.

3) Have people declined the Nobel Prize in literature? Yes. Boris Pasternak, the Russian poet and writer was originally awarded the 1958 Nobel Prize in literature. Famously known for Doctor Zhivago, a novel set in a timeline between the Russian Revolution and the Second World War, Pasternak’s work was not allowed to be published in the USSR for these were the Cold Wars. He was forced to decline the award by the USSR.

In 1964, leading French philosopher and writer, Jean-Paul Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, but refused to accept the award as he always declined all official honours. In a public announcement about his refusal of the Nobel Prize, Sartre wrote that “a writer should not allow himself to be turned into an institution."

4) Politics: Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa, who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 2010, contested the 1990 presidential elections in his country. Although he won the first round of voting, he lost the race to Alberto Fujimori. Llosa’s famous works include The Time of the Hero, The Green House and Conversation in the Cathedral.

5) In 1907, Bombay (now Mumbai)-born British author Rudyard Kipling was announced as the winner of the Nobel Prize in literature. Kipling, then aged forty-two, remains the youngest winner of the award till date. He is also the first English-language recipient of the honour.

6) Ivo Andric of former Yugoslavia, the 1961 Nobel Prize in literature winner, is the first recipient of the award for works in the Serbo-Croatian language. He was born in Bosnia to Croat parents and lived most of his life in Belgrade (Serbia).

7) Wole Soyinka in 1986 became the first African to win the Nobel Prize in literature. Soyinka is known to be a central figure in Nigerian history, and for his role in the nation’s independence from British rule. He has been known to oppose military dictatorships, both in his own country and elsewhere.

8) In 2000, the Nobel Committee decide to award China’s Gao Xingjian with the Nobel Prize in literature. Gao became the first Chinese recipient of the prize (though he had adopted French citizenship in 1998). However, his works were banned in China after his 1989 book The Fugitives, which had references to the Tiananmen Square massacre. In 2012, when Mo Yan became the second Chinese to win the Prize, the People’s Daily refused to acknowledge Gao’s feat, hailing Mo as the “first time for a writer of Chinese nationality to win the Nobel Prize in literature. Today is the day that Chinese writers have awaited for too long..."

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