The Swedish Academy gave the award to French author Annie Ernaux, a trailblazer of the autobiographical fiction genre. She joins the ranks of other prestigious figures in the literary scene.
From Ernest Hemingway to Mario Vargas Llosa, the greatest names in literature have been recipients of the prestigious Nobel Prize for literature. French author Annie Ernaux now joins this list of greats as the 2022 laureate, as announced on Thursday by the Swedish Academy.
Ernaux is the writer of more than 30 literary works, including "Happening," about her own illegal abortion in the 1960s, and "The Years," which explores the period from 1941 to 2006 and is considered by many to be the French memoirist's defining work.
In her unique autobiographical fiction, "examines a life marked by strong disparities regarding gender, language and class," the academy said.
The Nobel Prize in literature is given out each year by the centuries-old Swedish Academy, an elite group of 18 people consisting of literary scholars, historians, linguists and Swedish writers, among others.
Nobel: From dynamite to philanthropy
The award came into being after the death of Swedish chemist, biologist and industrialist Alfred Nobel, who among other achievements, was famous for patenting dynamite. Before his death in 1896, Nobel founded the Nobel Prize institute, consisting of five prizes in different areas and stated that each prize should be given to the person in each category who "conferred the greatest benefit to humankind." He left much of his vast fortune to the organization.
Nobel also had a passion for literature throughout his lifetime and had a library consisting of "a rich and broad selection of literature in different languages" — after all, he was fluent in English, French, German, and Russian as well as Swedish.
Since its initial year in 1901, the Nobel Prize in literature has been awarded 118 times (yet notably only 17 times to women writers). In 2018, the Swedish Academy suspended the prize-giving following a scandal involving French photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, married to a then member of the institution.
Salman Rushdie was among favorites
This year, many in the literary field expected novelist Salman Rushdie to take home the prestigious prize. Rushdie was stabbed earlier this year shortly before giving a public lecture in New York City. Rushdie is the author of "The Satanic Verses” which was banned in several Muslim countries.
The award winners throughout the Nobel Prize in literature's history have been diverse. The original winner of the prize was French essayist and poet Sully Prudhomme.
Last year's winner was Tanzanian-born British writer Abdulrazak Gurnah for his "uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents."
Other recent winners include Kazuo Ishiguro, Louise Glück and Olga Tokarczuk. Even Bob Dylan took home the prize in 2016 "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."
In addition to fame and glory, winners take home prize money totaling 10 million Swedish kroner (about €920,000; $914,000). According to the Swedish Academy, the award goes to "the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction." A ceremony for the winners will be held in Stockholm in December.