On Friday, three members of the Swedish Academy, which picks the laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature, announced that they would give up their seats in the prestigious cultural institution.
The renowned author Klas Östergren, who has been a member of the Swedish Academy for four years, was the first to announce his decision to leave. He made the announcement in a letter to Svenska Dagbladet.
”The Swedish Academy has had serious problems for a long time, and are now trying to solve them in ways that put obscure considerations in front of their own statutes, which is a betrayal to the Academy's founder and its highest patron, not to mention its function of representing brilliance and taste. Therefore I have chosen to not participate in the institution's activity any longer. I'm leaving the table, I'm out of the game,” he wrote in the letter.
Hours later another member, Kjell Espmark, who has had a seat in the Academy since 1981, announced that he is also leaving the institution.
Read the article in Swedish: Tre ledamöter lämnar Akademien
”Integrity is the blood of the Swedish Academy. When leading voices in the Academy put friendship and irrelevant regards over the responsibility for this integrity I can no longer be involved in the work,” he wrote in a message to Dagens Nyheter.
On Friday afternoon former permanent secretary, historian and author Peter Englund, also decided to leave his seat in the Academy. In his announcement, published on his blog, he wrote that there is a divide within the Academy, where permanent secretary Sara Danius’s handling of a deep crisis in the Academy has been criticized internally.
”Decisions have been made which I neither believe in nor can defend, and I have decided to no longer participate in the work of the Swedish Academy,” he wrote.
Peter Englund has been a member of the Swedish Academy since 2002, and was permanent secretary between 2009 and 2015.
During the last few months the Swedish Academy has been rocked by a crisis, after Dagens Nyheter revealed that 18 women accuse a man with close ties to the institution of sexual assault and harassment. The Academy cut all its ties with the accused man, who is the artistic director of a cultural center in Stockholm, which he runs with his wife who is also a member of the Academy.
Since the allegations were revealed a law firm has performed an investigation of each member's ties to the accused man. According to sources to Dagens Nyheter the investigation has been finalized and presented to the members of the Academy. The conclusions will be made public next week.
The Swedish Academy has eighteen members, and the membership is for life. Every member is elected by secret ballot in the Academy. The Swedish Academy has awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature since 1901.