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Jón Kalman Stefánsson Nominated for the “New Nobel”

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Jón Kalman Stefánsson Nominated for the “New Nobel”

Photo: Hreinn Gudlaugsson via Wikimedia Commons

Icelandic novelist Jón Kalman Stefánsson is among the nominees for the so-called “New Nobel,” RÚV reports. Officially dubbed the New Academy Prize in Literature, the prize was conceived and founded in the wake of a sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Swedish Academy and led to the 2018 Novel Prize in Literature being cancelled all together. The New Academy has nominated 46 authors for its inaugural prize, 12 of whom are Swedish and 20 of whom are from English-speaking nations: the US (12 nominees), the UK (5 nominees), Canada (2 nominees), and Nigeria (1 nominee).

The New Academy Prize is similar to the Nobel Prize in many ways. Per the New York Times, it was conceived of by Swedish journalist Alexandra Pascalidou, who enlisted the help of 100 prominent cultural figures in Sweden—including authors, actors, and musicians—to found the prize, which will be announced on October 14, 2018. The winner “will receive one million kronor, or around $112,000. There will also be a banquet in the winner’s honor, just as there would be for a Nobel laureate.”

There are several things that distinguish the New Academy Prize from the Nobel, however. For one, the 46 nominees are perhaps more accessible to the average reader than the typical Nobel nominees: Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is among the nominees, as is perennial Japanese favorite Haruki Murakami, illusive Italian best-seller Elena Ferrante, and American poet, singer, and author Patti Smith. Additionally, the winner will be selected, in part, based on an open vote. Members of the reading public all over the world can vote on their favorite authors. Per the prize website, “[y]our votes will single out three authors for the final judging by the expert jury. A fourth author will enter the final entirely based on the nominations from the librarians.”

Jón Kalman Stefánsson is the Booker and Nordic Council Prize-nominated author of more than ten novels and poetry collections. His novel Sumarljós og svo kemur nóttin (Summer Light and Then Comes the Night) received the 2005 Icelandic Literary Prize. A number of his works are available in English, including the trilogy Heaven and Hell, The Sorrow of Angels, and The Heart of Man, as well as Fish Have No Feet, all of which were translated by Philip Roughton.

Author voting for the New Academy Prize will remain open until August 14. Vote here.

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