The ugly scandal that cancelled the Nobel prize

Sweden’s literary elite has been thrown into disarray by allegations of sexual harassment and corruption. By Andrew Brown

In the eyes of its members, there is no more important cultural institution in the world than the Swedish Academy. The members, who call themselves The Eighteen (always in capitals), are elected for life by their peers, and meet for a ritual dinner every Thursday evening at a restaurant they own in the heart of the old town in Stockholm. And once a year, at a ceremony brilliant with jewels and formality, the permanent secretary of the academy hands out the Nobel prize in literature and all the world applauds.

But this year there will be no prize and no ceremony. In November 2017, it was revealed in the Swedish press that the husband of one of the academy members had been accused of serial sexual abuse, in assaults alleged to ...

Public fights, resignations and a sex scandal: what’s going on with the Nobel prize?

The normally secretive members of the Swedish Academy are embroiled in all-out war – but the collapse of this self-important bulwark of patriarchy and privilege is not over yet

The Nobel Prize for literature has been shaken by the worst scandal in its history. In a row which brings together sexism, money and privilege, along with levels of spite that would shame a kindergarten, three of the 18 members stepped down last week, in protest because they lost a vote to exclude a fourth member, Katarina Frostenson, a poet whose husband stands accused of 18 separate instances of sexual harassment, including rape.

By Thursday night, the resulting public scandal had led to departures of both Frostenson and the permanent secretary Sara Danius – who had been among her accusers – after they were forced out after a three hour meeting.

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Operation Chaos by Matthew Sweet review – spies, Vietnam deserters and a cult of evil

A horribly readable account of the US military deserters who found asylum in Sweden during the Vietnam War, and their group’s infiltration by the CIA

It is almost forgotten now what a decisive role Sweden played in the Vietnam war. Even at the time, the armies doing the fighting and the million or so Vietnamese doing the dying may have underestimated the importance Swedish public opinion had on their struggle. But in Sweden it was never in doubt. The starting point for this weird, sad, horribly readable story is the arrival in Stockholm in May 1968 of six misfit and confused US deserters from the Vietnam war after they had been shepherded across the Soviet Union from Japan, where a fishing vessel had smuggled them on to a Russian ship.

They had been transported across the USSR “on a current of vodka” and with women supplied by the KGB; they ...

Henning Mankell obituary

Swedish crime writer best known for his Kurt Wallander books who was a dedicated political activist

Henning Mankell, who has died aged 67 after being diagnosed with cancer last year, established almost single-handedly the global picture of Sweden as a crime writer’s ideal dystopia. He took the existing Swedish tradition of crime writing as a form of leftwing social criticism and gave it international recognition, capturing in his melancholy, drunken, bullish detective Kurt Wallander a sense of struggle in bewildered defeat that echoed round the world.

His tone is perfectly captured in the first Wallander novel, Faceless Killers (1991), when the detective comes across a murder scene: “Wallander thought of his own wife, who had left him, and wondered where to begin. A bestial murder, he thought. And if we’re really unlucky, it’ll be a double murder.”

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