STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – A member of the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel literature prize, said on Friday he would boycott this year’s celebrations in protest at the award being given to Austrian writer Peter Handke, a supporter of Serbia’s late president.
The Academy has been criticised for its choice of Handke over his support for Slobodan Milosevic, who died while in detention awaiting trial at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague for his role in Balkan wars of the 1990s.
Handke, the author of “The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick” and “Slow Homecoming” spoke at Milosevic’s funeral in 2006.
“I am not going to participate in this year’s Nobel week,” Peter Englund said in a letter to daily Dagens Nyheter. “To celebrate Peter Handke’s Nobel Prize would be gross hypocrisy on my part.”
Englund, who headed the Academy until 2015 and remains one of its 18 members, did not immediately respond to Reuters attempts to contact him. The Swedish Academy did not immediately respond to requests for a comment.
In an email to Dagens Nyheter, Academy Permanent Secretary Mats Malm said he had no comment on Englund’s decision.
Handke will hold a press conference later on Friday as part of a week of celebrations for the winners of this year’s Nobels.
He will formally be given the 9 million crown (£728,728.05) award on Dec. 10, before attending the traditional Nobel banquet later the same day.
(Reporting by Simon Johnson; editing by Niklas Pollard and Giles Elgood)