Austrian Handke and Poland’s Tokarczuk win Nobel literature prizes

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The permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Mats Malm, announces the winners of the 2018 and 2019 Nobel Prize in Literature in Stockholm, Sweden, Thursday Oct. 10, 2019. ( AP)
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(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on October 10, 2019 shows Polish author Olga Tokarczuk (L) on September 17, 2018 in Krakow and Austrian novelist and playwright Peter Handke on November 22, 2012 in Salzburg, Austria. (AFP)
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The Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, Mats Malm, announces Olga Tokarczuk as the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2018 and Peter Handke as the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2019, in Stockholm, Sweden, October 10, 2019. (Reuters)
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Books of Austrian novelist and playwright Peter Handke and a drawing depicting him (background) are displayed at the headquarters of his German editor Suhrkamp Verlag on October 10, 2019 in Berlin.(AFP)
Updated 10 October 2019

Austrian Handke and Poland’s Tokarczuk win Nobel literature prizes

  • Two Nobel prizes for literature awarded after 2018 scandal
  • Handke one of Europe’s most influential post-war writers

STOCKHOLM: Austrian writer Peter Handke won the 2019 Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday and the 2018 award went to Polish author Olga Tokarczuk, the Swedish Academy said on Thursday.
Handke, 76, was recognized for a body of work which includes novels, essays, notebooks and drama and “that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience,” the Academy said in a statement.
Tokarczuk, 57, won for “a narrative imagination that with encyclopaedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life,” it said.
Both have courted controversy — Handke for his portrayal of Serbia as a victim during the Balkan wars and attending its leader’s funeral, and Tokarczuk for touching on dark areas of Poland’s past that contrast with the version of history promoted by the country’s ruling nationalist party.
Two prizes were awarded this year after last year’s award was postponed over a scandal that led to the husband of an Academy member being convicted of rape.
Since then, the organization has appointed new members and reformed some of its more arcane rules after a rare intervention by its royal patron, the king of Sweden.
Academy member Anders Olsson said both Handke and Tokarczuk had accepted their prizes.
“I only talked to Peter Handke myself. He was very, very moved. At first he did not utter any words,” Olsson said.
He added: “It is not a political prize, it is a literary prize.”

CONTROVERSIES
Handke established himself as one of the most influential writers in Europe after World War Two, the Academy said. He also co-wrote the script of the critically-acclaimed 1987 film “Wings of Desire.”
The author of books such as “The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick” and “Slow Homecoming,” he attracted widespread criticism attending the funeral of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in 2006.

British writer Salman Rushdie once criticized him for “a series of impassioned apologias for the genocidal regime of Slobodan Milosevic.”
Tokarczuk trained as a psychologist before publishing her first novel in 1993. Since then, she has produced a steady and varied stream of works and her novel “Flight” won her the high-profile Man Booker International Prize last year. She was the first Polish author to do so.
Though some of the episodes she has written about contrast with version of history promoted by Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS), her agent said the award should not be seen in the context of a parliamentary election being held on Sunday in Poland.
Speaking on Polish television, Poland’s culture minister, Piotr Glinski, said the award to Tokarczuk was a success for Polish culture.
“I think that Mrs.Tokarczuk also perceives this that way, because she is a representative of Polish culture and Polish literature,” he said.


Malaysia arrests 680 Chinese nationals during online scam syndicate bust

Updated 56 min 55 sec ago

Malaysia arrests 680 Chinese nationals during online scam syndicate bust

  • Immigration officers track escaped suspects, seize thousands of electronic devices after huge sting operation
  • Operators would send a code to certain websites in mandarin and scam their victims’ money through WeChat services and banks in China

KUALA LUMPUR: At least 680 Chinese nationals have been arrested and hundreds more are being tracked down after Malaysian immigration authorities busted an online scam syndicate.

Around 150 immigration officers on Wednesday launched an early morning raid on sixth-floor office premises in the town of Cyberjaya, in Selangor, as part of a carefully planned sting operation.

Immigration director general, Khairul Dzaimee Daud, told Arab News that investigations were still underway into the alleged scamming activities of the 603 men and 77 women, aged between 19 and 35, arrested during the bust.

The scam is believed to have targeted Chinese citizens by offering fast profits in return for investments through the popular social media platform WeChat Pay.

Working from the syndicate’s Cyberjaya base, operators would send a code to certain websites in mandarin and scam their victims’ money through WeChat services and banks in China.

Following tip-offs from members of the public, Malaysian authorities conducted a month-long surveillance of the building before mounting the raid during which officers seized thousands of items of electronic equipment, including 8,230 handphones, 787 computers and 174 laptops.

Daud said on Thursday that those arrested had violated Malaysia’s immigration laws by entering the country on social visit passes with some overstaying their visa time limits.

“All of the Chinese nationals could not produce their passports or travel documents after being arrested, and no representative could produce valid documents on behalf of them,” the immigration chief added.

A number of immigration officers required treatment for injuries after scuffles broke out during the bust, and up to 150 Chinese nationals are thought to have escaped from the building.

Aerial videos showing suspects jumping from windows and fleeing the building quickly went viral on social media.

“The immigration department will continue to be on the lookout for individuals involved in the scam activities and is working closely with the Malaysian central bank and the police,” added Daud.