FILE -- In this March 23, 2016 photo Austrian author Peter Handke arrives for an award ceremony in Stuttgart, Germany. The winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in literature is Austrian author Peter Handke. (Daniel Maurer/dpa via AP, file)

The Latest: Serbian officials praise award for Handke

October 10, 2019 - 10:17 am

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The Latest on the awarding of the 2019 Nobel Prizes (all times local):

4:10 p.m.

Serbian media and officials are praising Peter Handke for winning the Nobel Prize in literature, describing him as a "great friend" of the Serbs.

The Austrian writer was an opponent of NATO's airstrikes against Serbia in the Kosovo war of the late 1990s and spoke in 2006 at the funeral of autocratic Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic. In his support for Milosevic's regime, Handke came to Belgrade during the bombing.

In an interview with Serbia's state TV earlier this year Handke said: "Those who bombed and killed thousands of people don't belong to Europe and the planet earth."

He has also denied that genocide was committed when Bosnian Serb troops massacred some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in the enclave of Srebrenica during the Bosnian war in the 1990s — something ruled genocide by the U.N. war crimes court in several convictions of top Bosnian Serb wartime commanders and political leaders.

Handke claimed that the Muslims had staged their own massacres in the besieged Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, and blamed this on the Serbs.

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4 p.m.

Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, who on Thursday won the Nobel Prize in literature, has hailed the role of the novel as a "deep way of communication across borders, across languages and across cultures."

But she said "not everyone needs to read" her books, in reaction to the culture minister saying he has not finished any of them.

Tokarczuk, 57, said she had to pull over as she was driving on a highway in Germany, to "absorb" a phone call telling her that she had won the Nobel Prize, and said it came as a "total surprise" to her. She is on a tour meeting readers in Germany.

She said she was "terribly happy and proud" that her novels, which describe events in small locations in Poland "can be read as universal and can be important for people around the world."

Speaking to the TVN24 she said "I believe in the novel" as a "deep way of communication across borders, across languages, across cultures" that teaches empathy.

Asked about recent comment by Culture Minister Piotr Glinski that he had never finished any of her books, she said "Yes, I have heard. But there are readers for whom this can be boring or not fit their temperament."

"Not everyone needs to read me," he said.

Glinski congratulated her Thursday and said he will revisit Tokarczuk's books.

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1:55 p.m.

Olga Tokarczuk's Polish publishers say they are "overjoyed" by the awarding of the Nobel Prize in literature to a writer they have worked with for 18 years.

Sebastian Nowak of the Wydawnictwo Literackie said Thursday the award "confirms the great scope and power of her prose. She is our precious national asset."

Nowak said the publishers could not immediately reach Tokarczuk because she was "driving somewhere on a German highway" from Dortmund, where she met with readers on Wednesday, to another location.

She has a meeting in Bielefeld later in the day, according to the German news agency dpa.

Nowak said her prose was "universal and crossed all boundaries of age and politics." All her books are available in Polish under the Wydawnictwo Literackie label.

Last year, Tokarczuk was the first ever Polish writer to win the International Booker award for her book "Flights." The Polish title is "Bieguni."

The 57-year-old writer lives in Wroclaw, in southwestern Poland, and also spends time in the wilderness of nearby valleys.

Culture Minister Piotr Glinski, who said this week he has not finished any of her books, tweeted congratulations after the award and said he will try again.

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2:45 p.m.

Polish novelist Olga Tokarczuk is the first woman this year to be awarded a Nobel Prize — although strictly speaking her prize is for 2018. The nine winners of this year's science prizes were all men.

Tokarczuk is only the 15th woman to win the Nobel literature prize in more than a century and the first since Belarusian journalist Svetlana Alexievich in 2015.

Last year, three women received prizes — Donna Strickland in physics; Frances H. Arnold in chemistry; and Nadia Muras won the Nobel Peace Prize. With Tokarczuk, that number has been raised to four for 2018.

According to the official website of the Nobel Prize, 53 women have been honored in all categories since 1901. The first woman to get the literature prize was Swedish author Selma Lagerlof in 1909.

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1:40 p.m.

Poland's president and culture minister have congratulated writer Olga Tokarczuk for winning the 2018 Nobel Prize in literature.

President Andrzej Duda called it a "great day for Polish literature" on Twitter and said: "Another Polish writer, after the poet Wislawa Szymborska, receives the literary Nobel Prize. Bravo!"

Szymborska received the prize in 1996.

Tokarczuk, 57, is one of Poland's best-known authors. But she has also been criticized by Polish conservatives — and received death threats — for criticizing aspects of the country's past, including its episodes of anti-Semitism. She is also a strong critic of Poland's right-wing government.

Culture Minister Piotr Glinski, who only days ago confessed to having tried reading her works but not making it through any of them, also congratulated her. On Thursday he said he would try harder now and claimed her accomplishment for Poland. He said: "A Nobel Prize is a clear sign that Polish culture is well appreciated in the world."

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2:15 p.m.

Peter Handke is known as a provocative author who hasn't shied away from courting controversy or, as one of his works is titled, "Offending the Audience," in a career spanning more than five decades.

Handke's debut novel in 1966 was "The Hornets." Also that year, "Offending the Audience" made its debut in a Frankfurt theater, confronting elegantly dressed theatergoers as "good-for-nothings."

His 1970 novel "The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick," the story of a former sportsman, was filmed by Wim Wenders.

Handke was an opponent of NATO's airstrikes against Serbia in the Kosovo war of the late 1990s and spoke in 2006 at the funeral of former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic.

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2:10 p.m.

Austria's president is congratulating Peter Handke on winning the Nobel Prize in literature, praising his "fascinating" works and declaring it a great day for literature.

Alexander Van der Bellen wrote on Twitter that Handke's "quiet and intense voice has for decades designed worlds, places and people who couldn't be more fascinating."

He described Handke's tone as "unfussy and unique," and said that "we have a lot to thank Peter Handke for. I hope he knows that."

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1:45 p.m.

The chair of the Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy says the 18-member Academy picked four members from own its ranks and five "externals" to select the shortlist for the 2018 and 2019 literature prizes.

The academy has reformed itself after sex abuse allegations that led to a mass exodus of committee members and the ouster of then-Permanent Secretary Sara Danius, resulting in no prize being awarded last year for the first time since 1943 at the height of World War II.

Anders Olsson, the chair, says the list of the candidates, whose names are secret, is boiled down by the group of nine to a shortlist of eight people to be considered by the Academy.

He added that in early October, the Academy chooses the laureates, and that a candidate must receive more than half of the votes cast.

When asked whether the Swedish Academy really makes the decision, Olsson said "We are not ready yet to evaluate the process," and declined to elaborate on the internal line of work.

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1:40 p.m.

The announcement that the 2018 Nobel Prize in literature has been awarded to Polish author Olga Tokarczuk provides a morale boost to liberal-minded Poles only three days before a nationalist populist party taking the country down an illiberal path seems headed for re-election.

Tokarczuk was honored by the Swedish Academy on Thursday for what it said was "a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life."

Tokarczuk has celebrated the ethnic melting pot that Poland was in the past in her works. That has not made her universally admired by the nationalists in power in Poland.

Even Culture Minister Piotr Glinski said in recent days that he has tried to read her works but never managed to finish any of them.

The last Pole to win the Nobel literature prize was poet Wislawa Szymborska in 1996.

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1 p.m.

The 2018 Nobel Prize in literature has been awarded to Polish author Olga Tokarczuk "for a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life," while the 2019 prize went to Austrian author Peter Handke.

Mats Malm, the Swedish Academy's permanent secretary, says Handke was honored "for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience."

The shortlist was made of eight names of which two were picked for the 2018 and 2019 awards, said Anders Olsson, chair of the Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy.

With the glory comes a 9-million kronor ($918,000) cash award to be shared a gold medal and a diploma. The laureates receive them at an elegant ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10 the anniversary of Nobel's death in 1896 together with five other Nobel winners. The sixth one, the peace prize, is handed out in Oslo, Norway on the same day.

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8:15 a.m.

Two Nobel Prizes in literature — one for 2019 and one for last year — will be announced Thursday after the 2018 literature award was postponed following sex abuse allegations that had rocked the Swedish Academy.

The chemistry prize went Wednesday to three scientists for their work leading to the development of lithium-ion batteries. That was a day after the physics award was given to a Canadian-American and two Swiss, and on Monday the Physiology or Medicine award went to two Americans and one British scientist.

So far, nine Nobel prizes have been awarded this week and all the laureates are men.

The coveted Nobel Peace Prize is Friday and the economics award on Monday.

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Read more stories on the 2019 Nobel Prizes by The Associated Press at https://www.apnews.com/NobelPrizes

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