Protests grow as Peter Handke receives Nobel medal in Sweden

The literature laureateship, due to be presented in Stockholm on Tuesday, faces boycotts and widespread protest

As Turkey joins Albania and Kosovo in boycotting Tuesdays Nobel prize ceremony for Peter Handke over his support for Slobodan Milosevics genocidal regime, war correspondents from Christiane Amanpour to Jeremy Bowen are protesting his win by sharing their harrowing stories from the conflict in the former Yugoslavia.

The Austrian writer, whose stance on the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s and attendance at Milosevics funeral have been widely criticised, is due to receive his Nobel medal in Stockholm, where a large protest demonstration is expected.

Bosnian Swedish writer Adnan Mahmutovic, who is organising the protests, said there had been a huge negative response to Handkes win in Sweden.

We hope that our voices tonight will help us start a dialogue about the consequences of continuous genocide denial that has been going on for decades. Genocide is not an event but a process whose last phase is denial. We cannot let our Nobel legacy legitimise it, he said.

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A digital mural on the side of a Sarajevo shopping mall protests against the awarding of the laureateship to Handke on Tuesday. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Last week Peter Englund, a member of the Swedish Academy, which selects the winner, announced he would boycott the ceremony, saying: To celebrate Peter Handkes Nobel prize would be gross hypocrisy on my part. On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed Handke on television, saying the Nobel has no value granting the Nobel literature prize on Human Rights Day to a figure who denies the genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina is nothing less than rewarding human rights violations. Turkeys ambassador to Sweden, Hakki Emre Yunt, also announced he would not attend the ceremony.

Albanias acting foreign minister Gent Cakaj has instructed the countrys ambassador to Sweden to boycott the ceremony, as is Kosovo, with its ambassador to the US, Vlora itaku calling Handkes win a preposterous and shameful decision.

Journalists who covered the war in Bosnia, meanwhile, are protesting Handkes win by describing what they saw during the conflict using the hashtag #BosniaWarJournalists.

I was there. We all know whos guilty, wrote Amanpour, the chief international anchor for CNN who covered the war as a young reporter.

My colleagues #BosniaWarJournalists are outraged so we are posting our work to remind the world of what happened there. Never forget, wrote foreign correspondent Janine di Giovanni. In Sarajevo, Id go to the morgue to count dead: Children, women, soldiers, horrors of that unjust war laid out on a slab. What BosniaWarReporters like me saw was relentless attacks on civilians. Genocide. Please speak out against Handke getting Nobel.

The BBCs Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen wrote: I reported all the Yugo wars. Saw monstrous crimes. Later testified at war crimes trials, inc those of Bosnian Serb leaders Karadzic & Mladic.

Former foreign correspondent Emma Daly said that she will never forget walking around the mass graves holding hundreds of men & boys who were blindfolded, shot & buried on farmland near Srebrenica. We know Milosevic was responsible.

The New York Timess Roger Cohen, sharing a link to his 1994 story about a Serbian concentration camp, wrote: shame on Nobel Committee and Swedish King for handing Nobel literature prize to Peter Handke, who calls the Bosnian genocide myth.

Journalist Peter Maass, who was told on Friday by Handke that his questions about the Srebrenica massacre were empty and ignorant, wrote on Twitter that the legacy of the Swedish royal family, who will award the Austrian author his medal, will be that they authenticated a genocide denier.

Handke has claimed that the Muslims staged their own massacres in Sarajevo and then blamed this on the Serbs, also casting doubt on the massacre of thousands of Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995. In an essay for the French newspaper Libration in 2006, he wrote: Lets stop comparing Slobodan Milosevic to Hitler and lets never again use the expression for the camps installed during the Yugoslav war concentration camps.

True, there were intolerable camps between 1992 and 1995 in Yugoslavia, especially in Bosnia. But let us stop mechanically linking, in our heads, these camps to Bosnian Serbs there were also Croatian camps and Muslim camps, and the crimes committed there, and there, are and will be tried in The Hague, he wrote. And finally, lets stop linking the massacres (amongst which, in the plural, those in Srebrenica in July 1995 were by far the most abominable) to Serbian forces or paramilitaries. Let us also listen to the survivors of Muslim massacres in the many Serbian villages around Srebrenica.

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Kazuo Ishiguro wins the Nobel prize in literature 2017

The British author behind books including Man Booker winner The Remains of the Day takes the award for his novels of great emotional force

The English author Kazuo Ishiguro has been named winner of the 2017 Nobel prize in literature, praised by the Swedish Academy for his novels of great emotional force, which it said had uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.

With names including Margaret Atwood, Ngugi Wa Thiongo and Haruki Murakami leading the odds at the bookmakers, Ishiguro was a surprise choice. But his blue-chip literary credentials return the award to more familiar territory after last years controversial selection of the singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. The author of novels including The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, Ishiguros writing, said the Academy, is marked by a carefully restrained mode of expression, independent of whatever events are taking place.

Speaking on Thursday afternoon, the writer said it was amazing and totally unexpected news.

It comes at a time when the world is uncertain about its values, its leadership and its safety, Ishiguro said. I just hope that my receiving this huge honour will, even in a small way, encourage the forces for goodwill and peace at this time.

Ishiguros fellow Booker winner Salman Rushdie who is also regularly named as a potential Nobel laureate was one of the first to congratulate him. Many congratulations to my old friend Ish, whose work Ive loved and admired ever since I first read A Pale View of Hills, Rushdie said. And he plays the guitar and writes songs too! Roll over Bob Dylan.

According to the former poet laureate Andrew Motion, Ishiguros imaginative world has the great virtue and value of being simultaneously highly individual and deeply familiar a world of puzzlement, isolation, watchfulness, threat and wonder.

How does he do it? asked Motion. Among other means, by resting his stories on founding principles which combine a very fastidious kind of reserve with equally vivid indications of emotional intensity. Its a remarkable and fascinating combination, and wonderful to see it recognised by the Nobel prize-givers.

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Ishiguro holds a press conference outside his London home after the win. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Permanent secretary of the academy Sara Danius spoke to Ishiguro about his win around an hour after the announcement: He was very charming, nice and well-versed, of course. He said he felt very grateful and honoured, and that this is the greatest award you can receive.

She described Ishiguros writing as a mix of the works of Jane Austen and Franz Kafka, but you have to add a little bit of Marcel Proust into the mix, and then you stir, but not too much, and then you have his writings.

Hes a writer of great integrity. He doesnt look to the side, hes developed an aesthetic universe all his own, she said. Danius named her favourite of Ishiguros novels as The Buried Giant, but called The Remains of the Day a true masterpiece [which] starts as a PG Wodehouse novel and ends as something Kafkaesque.

He is someone who is very interested in understanding the past, but he is not a Proustian writer, he is not out to redeem the past, he is exploring what you have to forget in order to survive in the first place as an individual or as a society, she said, adding in the wake of last years uproar that she hoped the choice would make the world happy.

Thats not for me to judge. Weve just chosen what we think is an absolutely brilliant novelist, she said.

Ishiguros publisher at Faber & Faber, Stephen Page, said the win was absolutely extraordinary news.

Hes just an absolutely singular writer said Page, who received news of Ishiguros win while waiting for a flight at Dublin airport. He has an emotional force as well as an intellectual curiosity, that always finds enormous numbers of readers. His work is challenging at times, and stretching, but because of that emotional force, it so often resonates with readers. Hes a literary writer who is very widely read around the world.

Born in Japan, Ishiguros family moved to the UK when he was five. He studied creative writing at the University of East Anglia, going on to publish his first novel, A Pale View of the Hills, in 1982. He has been a full time writer ever since. According to the Academy, the themes of memory, time and self-delusion weave through his work, particularly in The Remains of the Day, which won Ishiguro the Booker prize in 1989 and was adapted into a film starring Anthony Hopkins as the duty-obsessed butler Stevens.

His more recent novels have taken a turn for the fantastical: Never Let Me Go is set in a dystopic version of England, while The Buried Giant, published two years ago, sees an elderly couple on a road trip through a strange and otherworldly English landscape. This novel explores, in a moving manner, how memory relates to oblivion, history to the present, and fantasy to reality, said the Swedish Academy. Apart from his eight books, which include the short story collection Nocturnes, Ishiguro has written scripts for film and television, and revealed on Thursday that he was also working on a graphic novel.

Im always working on a novel, but Im hoping to collaborate on comics – not superheroes, he said. But Im in discussions with people to work on a graphic novel, which excites me because its new for me and it reunited me with my childhood, reading manga.

Awarded since 1901, the 9m Swedish krona (832,000) Nobel prize is for the writing of an author who, in the words of Alfred Nobels bequest, shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction. Ishiguro becomes the 114th winner, following in the footsteps of writers including Seamus Heaney, Toni Morrison, Mo Yan and Pablo Neruda.

The award is judged by the secretive members of the Swedish Academy, who last year plumped for the American musician Dylan for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition. He proved an elusive winner and was described as impolite and arrogant by academy member Per Wastberg after initially failing to acknowledge the honour.

Some members of the literary community were also less than impressed: This feels like the lamest Nobel win since they gave it to Obama for not being Bush, said Hari Kunzru at the time. The choice of a writer who has won awards including the Man Booker prize should pour oil on at least some of the troubled waters ruffled by Dylans win, though Will Self reacted to Ishiguros win in characteristically lugubrious fashion.

Hes a good writer, Self said, and from what Ive witnessed a lovely man, but the singularity of his vision is ill-served by such crushing laurels, while I doubt the award will do little to reestablish the former centrality of the novel to our culture.

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