Louise Glück Is Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature
The Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded on Thursday to Louise Glück, one of America’s most famous poets, “for her unmistakable poetic voice, which with its austere beauty makes individual existence universal.”
The award was announced at a press conference in Stockholm.
Born in New York in 1943, Glück has written numerous poetry collections, many of which address the challenges of family life and aging. These include “The Wild Iris,” for which she won a 1993 Pulitzer Prize, and 2014’s Faithful and Virtuous Night on mortality and grief. She was named United States Poet in 2003.
At the Nobel announcement, Anders Olsson, the chairman of the award committee, praised her minimalist voice and especially poems that get to the heart of family life.
“Louise Glück’s voice is unmistakable,” he said. “It is open and uncompromising and signals that this poet wants to be understood.” But he also said her voice was “full of humor and biting wit”.
“Ararat,” a collection of poems from 1990, was “the most brutal and saddest book of American poetry published in the past 25 years,” wrote Dwight Garner in a 2012 article in the New York Times.
The 2020 Nobel Prizes
Updated October 8, 2020
William Logan called luck “perhaps America’s favorite literary poet” in a 2009 Times review of “A Village Life”. Her audience may not be as large as others, he wrote, but “part of her stamp of approval is that her poems are like secret messages to the initiated.”
Glück is the first poet to receive the award since Wislawa Szymborska, a Polish writer, in 1996. Other poets who have received the award include Seamus Heaney, the Northern Irish poet who won in 1995. She is the first American woman to win since Bob Dylan in 2016.
She will be giving her Nobel Lecture in the U.S. as coronavirus travel restrictions apply, said Mats Malm, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy that awards the award.
Last year the academy came under fire after awarding the award to Peter Handke, an Austrian writer and playwright who was denied genocide for questioning events during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s – including the Srebrenica massacre which about 8,000 Muslim men and boys participated and were murdered.
That commendation excitement came a year after the Academy postponed the 2018 award over a scandal involving the husband of an academician, alleged of sexual misconduct and disclosure of information to bookmakers. This man, Jean-Claude Arnault, was later sentenced to two years in prison for rape.
These events marked a rock bottom for the award, which dates back to 1901 and was awarded to some of the most influential and respected writers, poets, and playwrights in the world. Prominent laureates in the past include Toni Morrison, Kazuo Ishiguro, Alice Munro, Gabriel García Márquez, Saul Bellow and Albert Camus. In 1964 the academy chose Jean-Paul Sartre, who declined the honor, saying that writers should not accept awards.
Given the recent controversy, many observers expected that this year’s award would result in an undisputed decision. “The Swedish Academy knows that they cannot afford another scandal,” said Björn Wiman, the cultural editor of the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, in a telephone interview before the announcement.
However, an advisor to the award committee denied this in an email on Wednesday. “We didn’t focus on making a ‘safe’ choice or discussing the choice in such terms,” said Rebecka Karde, a journalist and one of three outside experts who helped select this year’s winner. “It’s all about the quality of the output from the author who receives it.”
The Nobel Prize for Literature, which is awarded for the entire work of a writer and is considered to be perhaps the most prestigious literary prize in the world, is endowed with prize money of 10 million Swedish kronor or about 1.1 million US dollars.