The decision by the Swedish Academy to award the Nobel Prize for Literature for 2019 to Austrian writer Peter Handke is contrary to the original idea of the Nobel Prize, the Croatian P.E.N. Centre said in a statement signed by its president Tomica Bajsic on Tuesday.
The Nobel Prize is awarded to "people who make an exceptional contribution to humanity."
Handke's literature has been intertwined with his consistent support to the Slobodan Milosevic regime whose devastating consequences we still feel today, P.E.N. Croatia recalls.
It stresses that Handke's denial of mass crimes, his idolatry of a tyrant and contempt of the victims of the aggression in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are built into his work and can therefore not be viewed as being separate from the award of the Nobel Prize, whose reputation is linked with the nobleness of resistance to repression and commitment to testifying to the truth.
Taking into consideration that Nobel Prize winners are considered worldwide as role models and a kind of the world's conscience, it is disgraceful that the Swedish Academy does not care that the awarded writer described the killing of people in Dubrovnik and the city's siege as the Dubrovnik Summer Games, depicting the victims of the besieged Vukovar and Sarajevo as their own executioners, and that he said untruths about prison camps and was an apologist of the Srebrenica genocide, says P.E.N. Croatia.
The Swedish Academy's decision was also condemned by PEN International and PEN America.
PEN International described Handke as an author who had called into question well-documented war crimes while PEN America said that he had publicly supported perpetrators of genocide - former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.
"At a moment of rising nationalism, autocratic leadership, and widespread disinformation around the world, the literary community deserves better than this," PEN America said.