American poet Louise Gluck has won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature for “her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal“, by the Swedish Academy.
The American poet Louise Glück was born 1943 in New York and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Apart from her writing she is a professor of English at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. She made her debut in 1968 with Firstborn, and was soon acclaimed as one of the most prominent poets in American contemporary literature. She has received several prestigious awards, among them the Pulitzer Prize (1993) and the National Book Award (2014).
She is the first female poet to win the prize since Wislawa Szymborska in 1996. Though Olga Tokarczuk was another woman to receive the prize in literature category in 2018, she was a writer and not a poet. Thus, Louis Gluck is the second female poet to win the award.
The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded 112 times between 1901 and 2019. Of these, only 14 were women. In 2018, the award was postponed due to rape allegations.
The Nobel prizes are named after dynamite inventor and wealthy businessman Alfred Nobel and have been awarded since 1901 for achievements in science, literature and peace in accordance with his will. He held 355 patents and was the most famous. He bequeathed his fortune to institute the Nobel Prize.
The Nobel Prize is awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It is not awarded posthumously, that is after the death of a person. The Nobel Prize may not be shared more than three individuals. However, it can be awarded to organizations with more than three people.
Nobel prizes for medicine, physics and chemistry were awarded earlier this week, and the peace prize is to be announced on Friday.
The literature prize has been dogged by controversy over the past several years.
In 2019 the Academy exceptionally named two winners after postponing the 2018 prize in the wake of a sexual assault scandal involving the husband of one of its members. The 234-year-old Academy later announced changes it billed as improving the transparency of the awards process.
But one of the literature laureates announced last year, the Austrian novelist and playwright Peter Handke, had drawn wide international criticism over his portrayal of Serbia as a victim during the 1990s Balkan wars and for attending the funeral of its nationalist strongman leader Slobodan Milosevic.
Milosevic died in detention in 2006 while awaiting trial on genocide charges at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
The 2016 literature prize granted to American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan sharply divided opinion over whether a popular musician should be given an award that had been largely the domain of novelists and playwrights.
Like much of public life around the world, this year’s awards have taken place under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, which led to the cancellation of the splashy Nobel prize-giving ceremony held each December in Stockholm.
Instead, a televised event will be held with winners receiving their honours in their home countries.
This year’s winners will be invited to a ceremony in 2021 to celebrate alongside next year’s laureates, assuming the pandemic has eased by then.