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The Not-So-Noble Action…

Can a not-so-good man create Art that is Grand? Perhaps, the answer is ‘Yes’… at least, the Nobel Committee believes so!
The Royal Swedish Academy has recently honoured Peter Handke, an Austrian novelist, playwright, translator, poet, film director and writer of screenplays, with the Nobel Prize in Literature “for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience”.
Handke, by the way, is one of those ultra-rightist literary personalities who had openly backed Yugoslavian and Serbian war criminal Slobodan Miloševic during the bloody Balkan War in early 1990s. He publicly mentioned that Sarajevo’s Muslims had ‘massacred themselves’ in order to blame the Serbs of genocide during the Civil War! As expected, Handke winning the Nobel Prize for Literature has sparked a global outrage, with Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo and many other countries criticising the Nobel Committee for its decision…

Peter Handke.jpg
Peter Handke

Soon after the Nobel Committee made an official announcement in this regard, Albanian Prime Minister Edvin ‘Edi’ Rama said that he “never thought (that he) would feel to vomit because of a Nobel Prize”. For his part, Albanian Foreign Minister Gent Cakaj said the award was appalled that the Prize had been awarded to a ‘genocide denier’. Bosnian Muslim leader Sefik Dzaferovic, too, condemned the Nobel Committee’s decision, stating: “I consider it a scandalous and shameful decision of the Committee of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to award the Nobel Prize to writer Peter Handke, who justified war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992-95 and stood for the protection of their perpetrators.” In Pristina, President of Kosovo Hashim Thaçi stated: “The decision of Nobel Prize brought immense pain to countless victims.

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When the bloody Civil War triggered the fall of erstwhile Yugoslavia and claimed thousands of lives, the Austrian author backed the Serb atrocities in the Balkan region. He even compared the condition of Serbs in Yugoslavia with the Jews in Nazi Germany. Well, it was sometime later that he withdrew his comment! As a close friend of Serb leader Miloševic, Handke also issued statements, supporting the activities of (Miloševic’s two Generals) Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić! Later, the UN declared Miloševic, Karadžić and Mladić as war criminals. Miloševic also wanted Handke to testify in the ‘homicide case’ against him. However, the Serb leader died before the case was settled. At his memorial, Handke delivered a heart-breaking speech in front of thousands of Miloševic’s fans.

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Handke was criticised a number of times for his pro-Serb stand in the past. His meditative essay on ethnic conflicts in former Yugoslavia, titled ‘A Journey to the Rivers: Justice for Serbia’ (1997), had also triggered controversies. The Nobel Committee’s announcement surprised the author (himself), who said that it was a bold decision, indeed!

Ethnic Cleansing in Bosnia.jpeg
Ethnic Cleansing in Bosnia

Meanwhile, Mats Malm, the Permanent Secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy, has defended the Nobel Committee’s decision, saying: “The Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded on literary and aesthetic ground. It is not in the Academy’s mandate to balance literary quality against political considerations.” However, his defence, seemingly, has failed to convince the Global Community…

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