Europe

Outrage in Europe after Nobel literature win for ‘genocide denier’

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The Swedish Academy has been criticised in Europe for its decision to give Peter Handke a Nobel Prize for Literature.

Austrian writer Peter Handke's Nobel literature prize win on Thursday sparked outrage in Albania, Bosnia and Kosovo, where he is widely seen as an admirer of late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

In the 1990s, Handke emerged as a vocal defender of the Serbs during the bloody collapse of the former Yugoslavia, even comparing them to Jews under the Nazis, a remark he later retracted.

His 1996 travelogue "A Journey to the Rivers: Justice for Serbia", caused a storm, and in 1999 he returned Germany's prestigious Buechner prize in protest at NATO's bombing of Belgrade.

"Never thought would feel to vomit because of a Nobel Prize," Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama wrote on Twitter.

"Given disgraceful choice made from a moral authority like the Nobel Academy, shame is sealed as a new value. No, we can't become so numb to racism and genocide."

The Muslim member of Bosnia's joint presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic, labelled the decision to award Handke "scandalous and shameful".

"It is shameful that the Nobel Prize committee easily neglected the fact that Handke was justifying and protecting Slobodan Milosevic and his executors (Bosnian Serb wartime leader) Radovan Karadzic and (his army chief) Ratko Mladic sentenced by a UN court ... for the most severe war crimes including genocide," he said in a statement.

By awarding Handke the Academy's Nobel committee has "completely lost its moral compass", Mr Dzaferovic added.

Bosnian actor Nermin Tulic, who was seriously injured during the 1992-1995 siege of Sarajevo by Bosnian Serb forces, greeted the award by tweeting an emoticon of a smiley vomiting.

Emir Suljagic, a survivor of the massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim males from Srebrenica by Serbs, echoed him.

"A Milosevic fan and notorious genocide-denier gets Nobel prize in literature ... What a time to be alive," Mr Suljagic, a Sarajevo-based professor of international relations tweeted in English.

The 1995 Srebrenica massacre, the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II, was deemed genocide by international justice.

2018 Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke, who took home the 2019 medal.
2018 Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke, who took home the 2019 medal.
AAP

Polish author Olga Tokarczuk has been awarded the 2018 Nobel Literature Prize, which was delayed following a sexual harassment scandal.

Ms Tokarczuk, considered the most talented Polish novelist of her generation, was honoured "for a narrative imagination that with encyclopaedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life".

Her books portray a polychromatic world perpetually in motion, with characters' traits intermingled and language that is both precise and poetic.

Ms Tokarczuk and Mr Handke each take home a cheque worth nine million kronor (approximately $1.3 million).

Ms Tokarczuk becomes just the 15th woman to have won the prestigious distinction, out of 116 literature laureates honoured since 1901.

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