Members behind decision to award Austrian writer the prize in literature say he will be seen as an ‘obvious choice’ in 50 years

The Swedish Academy has defended its controversial choice of Peter Handke as this year’s Nobel literature laureate, saying that it had “obviously not intended to reward a war criminal and denier of war crimes or genocide. But that’s the impression you get in the media right now.”

Writing in the Swedish paper Dagens Nyheter, academy members Mats Malm and Erik M Runesson admitted that Handke had “definitely made provocative, inappropriate and unclear statements on political issues”, according to a translation by the BBC. But they said that they had “found nothing in what he has written that involves attacks on civil society or respect for the equal value of all people”, and asked: “What we wonder is what sources the critics used and why Handke’s own statements are ignored.”

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