Swedish Academy head resigns, Nobel board slams turmoil at lit prize group

The head of the Swedish Academy that awards the Nobel Prize in Literature has resigned following an internal crisis at the prestigious institution.

Sara Danius announced her decision Thursday after a three-hour meeting of academy members in central Stockholm.

Danius said she had lost the confidence of the academy, but would not comment on whether a vote was held to remove her.

The crisis started last week after Klas OstergrenKjell Espmark and Peter Englund resigned Friday after the body voted against removing Katarina Frostenson, an Academy member since 1992, whose husband has been accused of sexual misconduct.

The trio had called for her exclusion.

Peter Englund, seen in Stockholm in 2012, is one of the three academy members who resigned. (Fredrik Sandberg/Associated Press)

Danius, a 56-year-old Swedish literature historian, says the turmoil at the academy has “already affected the Nobel Prize quite severely.”

The Nobel Foundation Board sharply criticized the Swedish Academy on Wednesday, saying the group was threatening to tarnish the reputation of the Nobel Prize.

​Multiple allegations against Arnault

Although he has not spoken publicly, Swedish media have identified Frostenson’s husband as French-born Jean-Claude Arnault, the director of a Stockholm cultural centre.

The resignations came after the academy decided against expelling Swedish author Katarina Frostenson, whose husband has been accused of sexual misconduct. (Olafur Steinar Gestsson/AFP/Getty Images)

In December, the Swedish Academy banned Arnault from a Nobel banquet after Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter — one of Sweden’s largest newspapers — published allegations from 18 women claiming to have been assaulted or raped by Arnault. The alleged assaults occurred between 1996 and 2017, according to the newspaper. 

He has denied wrongdoing to the paper.

In March, Sweden’s prosecution authority said the investigation into reported rape and sexual abuse during the period March 2013-April 2015 had been dropped, but the probe into other criminal acts would continue. It did not give further details.

Judges on the 18-member committee are appointed for life. In 1989, three judges quit after the academy refused to denounce Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini for calling for the death of The Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie.


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