Neil Gaiman and Haruki Murakami have been shortlisted for a substitute Nobel literature prize, created by cultural figures in Sweden after the Academy, rocked by a sexual assault scandal, was forced to postpone the awarding of 2018's prize.
The New Academy Prize was established, "to warrant that an international literary prize will be awarded in 2018, but also as a reminder that literature should be associated with democracy, openness, empathy and respect," the organisers said.
Joining the British fantasy fiction writer and Japanese writer as contenders are two other finalists: Maryse Conde, a Guadeloupean author of historical fiction, and Kim Thuy, a Vietnamese-born Canadian writer, whose 2009 debut Ru won the Governor General’s Literary Award for French-language fiction.
In contrast to the behind-closed-doors approach of the Swedish Academy, The New Academy asked Sweden's librarians to submit nominations of authors for the prize. Voting was then opened up to a worldwide audience that whittled the 47 names put forward down to just four authors.
The final decision of who out of the four will win is now in the hands of an expert jury. Chaired by Ann Pålsson, an editor, independent publisher and former senior editor at Bonnier for 25 years, it comprises: Lisbeth Larsson, professor of literature at Gothenburg University; Peter Stenson, an editor, former translator and former publisher and president for Atlantis Bokförlag; and Gunilla Sandin, librarian director and former programme director for the Gothenburg Book Fair.
The alternative Nobel will be awarded on 12th October, working within the same time-frame as the original prize, and presented at a formal event on 9th December 2018.
According to the new prize's website, The New Academy will be dissolved in December. The Swedish Academy had been planning to compensate by announcing two winners in 2019.