A #MeToo scandal has so shaken the group of Swedish academics who select the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature that it might not give out the award at all this year. The trouble started brewing in November, when 18 women accused noted Swedish cultural figure Jean-Claude Arnault of sexual assault and harassment. Arnault’s wife, poet Katarina Frostenson, belongs to the Swedish Academy that awards the Nobel literature prize. A Swedish newspaper reported Arnault also repeatedly leaked information about the academy’s Nobel deliberations. Several academy members called for Frostenson’s ouster and then resigned themselves when they couldn’t muster enough votes. Now Frostenson, another academy member, and the academy’s permanent secretary have also stepped down, leaving the group one member short of the 12 it needs to elect new members to fill the vacancies.
What comes next? According to the Daily Mail, the temporary head of the Swedish Academy has said he doesn’t know but hopes to figure it out soon.
The scandal represents more than just embarrassment for Sweden, which takes the responsibility for selecting Nobel Prize recipients very seriously. Protesters held a rally Thursday in Stockholm to demand that every member of the literature selection committee resign. Similar demonstrations were planned in cities across the country. Even the king of Sweden weighed in, threatening to use his authority to change the Swedish Academy’s rules to fill the empty board positions. —L.L.