Maryse Conde wins alternative award to Nobel literature prize | Books | DW | 12.10.2018

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Maryse Conde wins alternative award to Nobel literature prize

The New Academy selected the writer from Guadeloupe as the winner of its New Prize in Literature. The global literary award was created in reaction to this year's absent Nobel Prize, hit by a #MeToo-related scandal.

Swedish Academy postpones Literature Nobel amid turmoil

The New Academy Prize in Literature goes to Maryse Conde, the Swedish organization announced on Friday.

 Kim Thuy and Neil Gaiman were also on the shortlist, as was Haruki Murakami before he withdrew his nomination, claiming he needed to focus on writing.

The New Academy is a provisional self-organized group of over 100 volunteers that emerged to provide an alternative global literature prize this year, after the Swedish Academy decided it would postpone its 2018 award.

The Swedish Academy, the traditional institution responsible for selecting the laureate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, decided in May that it would be taking a year off following the turmoil related to accusations of sexual assault against Jean-Claude Arnault, an influential figure in Sweden's cultural scene who is married to one of the Academy's members.

Maryse Conde chosen for her take on post-colonialism

"She has described how colonialism has changed the world and how those affected take back their heritage," said the New Academy of Conde, who was born in Guadeloupe in 1937 and is one the Caribbean's most outstanding voices. DesiradaSeguCrossing the Mangrove and Who Slashed Celanire's Throat? are just a few titles in her oeuvre of over 20 novels.

The New Academy aimed with its award to highlight the work of an author who has dealt with questions of identity, gender and class and said the author best fulfilled the criteria.

Read more: German-language winners of the Nobel Literature Prize

A grassroots initiative

Founded and supported by a large group of people from different fields and backgrounds in Sweden, the New Academy aims to serve as "a reminder that literature should be associated with democracy, openness, empathy and respect."

In a selection process that aimed to be more open and transparent than the traditional Nobel, Sweden's librarians were first invited to submit authors' names for the prize. A worldwide voting process then took place, narrowing the field of 47 nominees to four finalists. More than 32,000 voters contributed to the selection of the shortlisted authors. An expert jury then assessed the finalists.

The New Academy has been raising money on Kickstarter for its cash prize. So far, over €17,500 have been collected ($20,300), and the campaign will continue until the awards gala on December 9, the evening of the traditional Nobel Prize ceremony. The New Academy plans to dissolve afterwards.

eg/cmb (with dpa)

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