American poet wins the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature

American poet Louise Glück has been declared the winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature in a statement made by the Swedish Academy on Thursday. Louise Glück is the 16th woman to become a Nobel Laureate in Literature, since it was first awarded in 1901.

Ms Glück, a 77-year-old professor of English at Yale University, is one of the most celebrated American poets. The American poet has been lauded “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal.”

In 1968, she made her debut with Firstborn, and according to the statement by the Swedish Academy, she “was soon acclaimed as one of the most prominent poets in American contemporary literature.” The Swedish Academy added that her poetry is “characterized by a striving for clarity—often focusing on childhood and family life, and close relationship with parents and siblings.” Her 2006 collection Averno, has been described as “masterly” and “a visionary interpretation of the myth of Persephone’s descent into hell in the captivity of Hades, the god of death.”

She has published 12 collections of poetry and several collections of prose. She has previously won a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, a National Book Critics Circle Award and a Bollingen Prize. Between 2003 and 2004, she was the poet laureate of the United States.

The award, which includes a 10 million Swedish kronor (about US$1.1 million) prize, comes to life again after a hiatus in 2018 when the award was postponed after sex abuse allegations rocked the Swedish Academy overseeing the prestigious award.

Last year, two laureates were named with the 2018 prize going to Poland’s Olga Tokarczuk and the 2019 award to Austria’s Peter Handke. However, Mr Handke’s win sparked controversy in literary circles as it was seen as not fitting for one who seemed to be in support of Serbian war crimes in the ’90s.

Meanwhile, the 2020 award ceremony began on Monday, recognising remarkable achievement in some fields of life. On Monday, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was jointly awarded to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton, and Charles M. Rice “for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus.” On Tuesday, the Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel, and Andrea Gheza for their research on black holes. On Wednesday, the chemistry prize went to French scientist Emmanuelle Charpentier and American biochemist Jennifer Doudna who were behind a powerful gene-editing tool. Prizes for outstanding work in the fields of peace and economics would be announced in the coming days.

So far, Africa has produced four Nobel laureates in Literature, namely

  • Wole Soyinka of Nigeria (1986);
  • Naguib Mahfouz of Egypt (1988);
  • Nadine Gordimer (1991) and J.M Coetzee (2003), both from South Africa.

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