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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tomorrow is the day...

Nobel Medal. Registered trademark of the Nobel Foundation. © ® The Nobel Foundation. Photo: Lovisa Engblom

The 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature will be announced tomorrow morning at 7am!

How is the literature prize chosen? Take a few moments to read this Q&A session with Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, Peter Englund himself. It's very informative!

How do you work to select a new Nobel Prize in Literature?
In February all the received nominations, usually a bit over 200, are reviewed. They are then processed by the Nobel Committee. The work is supported by the Academy's own employees, but also outside experts are hired for translations, statements and the like. First, we make a list of over 20 names. From this, we eventually make a short list of five names. The short list is discussed and approved by the Academy in its entirety in May. Then the members have the summer to learn about the five authors on the short list. When the Academy then meet again in mid-September, it is always the Nobel Prize that is the top priority. We usually have agreed to a decision in early October.
Who selects the Nobel Laureates in Literature?
The Swedish Academy, in its entirety. The Academy has 18 members: writers, poets, literary scholars and others.
How do you find authors worthy a Nobel Prize in Literature? The world is so big ...
It is not difficult to find worthy candidates. There are many: the world is so big .... The hard part is to select who will get it.
Do you always agree in the Literature Prize decision? What happens if you do not agree? 
No. The prize is determined after long discussions and with a majority vote.
Can you mention a Literature Prize when you haven't agreed?
No, the secrecy forbids it. But I can say so much that I've never experienced a prize where everyone was in full agreement. If so, it would be really strange.
Do you look at the nominee's particular work/book or collection of works during the nominee’s lifetime? The prize is always based on an overall assessment. It's a life's work that is rewarded, not individual books.
Do you contact the Nobel Laureate before the announcement is made public? Does the Swedish Academy have contact with the Nobel Laureates over the years?
We try to contact the person who received the award about half an hour before the decision is announced.
Why do you keep everything about the Literature Prizes secret for 50 years?
It says so in the statutes.
What Nobel Prize in Literature has been most popular?
I do not know that. And I wonder if there is anyone who has an idea about this. We do not see the prize as a popularity contest, but only care about finding worthy Laureates.

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