Critics Slam Peter Handke’s “Shameful” Nobel Prize for Literature

The controversial writer has been called a genocide denier

Peter Handke Nobel
Handke took home a Nobel, and his critics are not pleased.

Austrian writer Peter Handke received a 2019 Nobel Prize for Literature, and critics are not impressed.

The poet, playwright and novelist is a controversial figure for supporting he Serbs during the 1990s Yugoslav war, and his recent award has been met with outrage from his detractors, BBC reported.

Handke’s critics include Albania’s Foreign Minister Gent Cakaj, who to took to Twitter Thursday morning to call the writer a “genocide denier,” adding that the award was “shameful.”

Handke himself was reportedly as surprised by the award as his critics. According to BBC, the author said he was “astonished” to receive the award, calling the decision “very courageous by the Swedish Academy.” In a statement, The Swedish Academy said the award was handed down to Handke for “an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity,” adding that the Austrian writer’s work “has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience.”

The award was widely praised in Austria, and the mayor of Belgrade, Zoran Radojicic, called Handke “a great writer, humanist and a man who loves Serbia”

Others were considerably less impressed, including Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, who called the award “disgraceful” in a tweet on Thursday. “Never thought [I] would feel to vomit because of a Nobel Prize,” he added.

Bosnian Presidency member Safik Dzaferovic called Hanke’s award “scandalous and shameful,” and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek accused the writer of being “an apologist of war crimes.”

Handke also received criticism from others in the literary community. Author Salman Rushdie, who once called Handke “Moron of the Year,” took to Twitter to reiterate his disdain, while PEN America issued a statement saying it was “dumbfounded by the selection of a writer who has used his public voice to undercut historical truth.”

British author Hari Kunzru also spoke out against the decision. “More than ever we need public intellectuals who are able to make a robust defence of human rights in the face of the indifference and cynicism of our political leaders,” he told the Guardian. “Handke is not such a person.”

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