Nobel literature body elects Iranian poet and Swedish judge
The Swedish Academy hopes to recover from a #MeToo sexual scandal that forced it to postpone this year’s literature Nobel
On Friday, The Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Literature Prize, announced an Iranian-born poet and a judge as new members as it seeks to recover from a #MeToo scandal that forced it to postpone this year’s literature Nobel.
Eight of its total 18 members have either resigned or are on hiatus due to a deep rift within the academy on how to manage its long-standing ties to a Frenchman recently convicted of rape.
For the first time in 70 years, it postponed this year’s literature prize by a year while it attempts to sort out its problems.
The election of Jila Mossaed, a Tehran-born poet who writes in Swedish and Persian, and Swedish supreme court judge Eric Runesson, brings the Academy’s active members to a quorum of 12.
Members have traditionally been elected for life, but with several members no longer actively participating, and to ensure the venerable body’s survival, its patron, Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf, changed its statutes to make it possible for members to resign and be replaced.
“The election of two new members is positive. I hope The Swedish Academy will be given the opportunity to continue rebuilding the trust of the institution and that the academy can now continue its important work,” the king said in a statement.
“My words were not appreciated in my old home country, but my new nation is offering me one of the best literary positions because of what I write,” Mossaed, who’s been living in exile Sweden since 1986, told TT news agency. She replaces Swedish author Kerstin Ekman, who ended her involvement with the academy in 1989 over its refusal to condemn a fatwa issued by Iran’s former supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini against author Salman Rushdie over his novel The Satanic Verses.
Meanwhile, Runesson, who also worked as a professor at Lund University, jokingly referred to himself as an “ignorant hellion” compared to his other academy colleagues.
Author and member Peter Englund told TT news agency, “This is about two people with strong integrity, who, with their different backgrounds, knowledge, and competence, complete the academy in a welcome and interesting fashion.”