Alternative Literature Award: an equal and democratic prize

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Here you will find everything you need to know about the Alternative Literature Award, which will be delivered on December 9

Alternative Literature Award: an equal and democratic prize

This year we will not have Nobel Literature, but an alternative prize. In fact, on October 12 the winner of the Alternative Literature Prize will be announced, an award that will be presented by the New Academy in a formal event that will take place on December 9.

Leer en español: Premio de Literatura Alternativo: un galardón que le apunta a la igualdad y la democracia

The New Academy is an independent, non-profit organization comprised of 131 intellectuals "to guarantee that an international literary prize will be awarded in 2018," according to its website, after the Swedish Academy announced in May that it will not deliver this year's Nobel.

Alternative Literature Award: A new and unique literary prize

The statement came after several scandals involving the institution, including the scandal of harassment and sexual abuse by French artist Jean Claude Arnault, husband of Katarina Frostenson, a former member of the Academy. Because of this, the Nobel Prize for Literature was postponed until 2019. However, for the New Academy it is important to award this literary prize, now more than ever.

Thus, it was born the Alternative Literature Prize, an award that according to the journalist and co-founder of this organization, Alexandra Pascalidou, in an interview with Hiperliteratura, is "so necessary in our time, when literature is an antidote to the culture of silence". This is why this unique prize is so important. After being delivered on December of 2018, the New Academy will be dissolved.

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According to the website of the New Academy, "the prize will be awarded to a writer of literary fiction that within the reader has entered the history of humanity in the world." The winner of the prize can be from anywhere in the world and must have two published works, one of these in the last ten years".

A literary prize that points to gender equality and democracy

The selection process for the winner of the Alternative Literature Prize has been highlighted because, unlike the Nobel Prize, it seeks equality and democracy, and is much shorter than the procedure of the international literary award . To choose the winner of the alternative prize, the New Academy invited Swedish booksellers to submit authors for the prize until July 8.

Subsequently, the 47 nominated writers were submitted to an online vote around the world, between July 10 and August 14. This has attracted media attention, since unlike the Nobel in which a group of qualified people is the one that evaluates the postulated authors, here, the public is able to choose the four finalists. They are:

  • Maryse Condé, writer and French activist, author of Yo, Tituba, the black witch of Salem (1986) and Segu (1987)
  • Kim Thúy, Vietnamese writer, author of the autobiographical novel Ru (2009) and the fiction work Man (2014)
  • Neil Gaiman, British writer and comic strip artist, author of Humo y Espejos (1998) and Coraline (2002)
  • Haruki Murakami, Japanese writer, author of Tokyo blues (1987) and Kafka on the shore (2002), and for many years one of the most famous names to win the Nobel Prize for Literature

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Precisely, Pascalidou explains that the Alternative Literature Prize aims to defend above all equality, democracy, freedom of expression, and transparency, something that has been reflected in the process. Although this prize does not have enough writers from other parts of the world, if there is no Latin American author among the postulates, it did take a big step in terms of gender equality.

Not only two of the finalists are women, but also in the nominations there is a large female representation. Among the writers who were nominated are, in addition to Condé and Thúy:

  • The Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, author of The Tale of the Maid (1985) and Alias ​​Grace (1996)
  • The British writer JK Rolling, author of the Harry Potter series
  • The Indian writer Arundhati Roy, author of The God of Small Things (1997)
  • The Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Americanah (2013) and another of the possible candidates to win the Nobel in 2018

Finally, the four selected authors will be evaluated by a panel of experts. Thus, the winner will be announced in October, the month in which the Nobel winner is also revealed.

Fun fact: as the New Academy is a non-profit organization, it will launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise the prize money for the winner and the awards ceremony.

What do you think of the Alternative Literature Prize? Did you have the opportunity to vote? What writer do you think will win?

LatinAmerican Post | Diana Rojas Leal
Translated from
"Premio de Literatura Alternativo: un galardón que le apunta a la igualdad y la democracia"