The Nobel Prize for Literature

The Nobel Prize for Literature is awarded annually by the Swedish Academy. Literary prizes (as well as awards for physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, economics, and peace) are funded from the fortune of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite. The task
of selecting the annual literary prize winner was entrusted to the Swedish Academy by Nobel in his will. The first Nobel Prize was awarded in 1901. (This award description was taken from NoveList, a database dedicated to helping readers find fiction titles, award winning books, and similar titles and authors. The author annotations below were taken from The Nobel Prize Internet Archive.)  Visit the Nobel Prize official website for more information about the Nobel Prizes.


2014 Patrick Modiano (France) for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation.
2013 Alice Munro (Canada) master of the contemporary short story.
2012 Mo Yan (China) who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary.
2011 Tomas Tranströmer (Sweden) because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality.
2010 Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru) for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individuals' resistance, revolt and defeat.
2009 Herta Müller (Germany) who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed.
2008 Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio (France) author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization.
2007 Doris Lessing (United Kingdom) that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny.
2006 Orhan Pamuk (Turkey) who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures.
2005 Harold Pinter (United Kingdom) who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms.
2004 Elfriede Jelinek (Austria) for her musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society's clichés and their subjugating power.
2003 John Maxwell Coetzee (South Africa) who in innumerable guises portrays the surprising involvement of the outsider.
2002 Imre Kertész (Hungary) for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history.
2001 V. S. Naipaul (Great Britain) for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories.
2000 Gao Xingjian (China) for an oeuvre of universal validity, bitter insights and linguistic ingenuity, which has opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama.
1999 Gunter Grass (Germany) whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history.
1998 José Saramago (Portugal) who with parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony continually enables us once again to apprehend an elusory reality.
1997 Dario Fo (Italy) who emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden.
1996 Wislawa Szymborska (Poland) for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality.
1995 Seamus Heaney (Ireland) for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past.
1994 Kenzaburo Oe (Japan) who with poetic force creates an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today.
1993 Toni Morrison (U.S.A.) who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.
1992 Derek Walcott (St. Lucia) for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment.
1991 Nadine Gordimer (South Africa) who through her magnificent epic writing has - in the words of Alfred Nobel - been of very great benefit to humanity.
1990 Octavio Paz (Mexico) for impassioned writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity.
1989 Camilo José Cela ( for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man's vulnerability.
1988 Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt) who, through works rich in nuance-now clearsightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous-has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind.
1987 Joseph Brodsky (U.S.A.) for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity.
1986 Wole Soyinka (Nigeria) who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence.
1985 Claude Simon (France) who in his novel combines the poet's and the painter's creativeness with a deepened awareness of time in the depiction of the human condition.
1984 Jaroslav Seifert (Czechoslovakia) for his poetry which endowed with freshness, sensuality and rich inventiveness provides a liberating image of the indomitable spirit and versatility of man.
1983 Sir William Golding (United Kingdom) for his novels which, with the perspicuity of realistic narrative art and the diversity and universality of myth, illuminate the human condition in the world of today.
1982 Gabriel García Márquez (Columbia) for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent's life and conflicts.
1981 Elias Canetti (United Kingdom) for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas and artistic power.
1980 Czeslaw Milosz (Poland/U.S.A.) who with uncompromising clear-sightedness voices man's exposed condition in a world of severe conflicts.
1979 Odysseus Elytis, pen-name of Odysseus Alepoudhelis (Greece) for his poetry, which, against the background of Greek tradition, depicts with sensuous strength and intellectual clear-sightedness modern man's struggle for freedom and creativeness.
1978 Isaac Bashevis Singer (U.S.A.) for his impassioned narrative art which, with roots in a Polish-Jewish cultural tradition, brings universal human conditions to life.
1977 Vicente Aleixandre (Spain) for a creative poetic writing which illuminates man's condition in the cosmos and in present-day society, at the same time representing the great renewal of the traditions of Spanish poetry between the wars.
1976 Saul Bellow (U.S.A) for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work.
1975 Eugenio Montale (Italy) for his distinctive poetry which, with great artistic sensitivity, has interpreted human values under the sign of an outlook on life with no illusions.
1974 The prize was divided equally between:
Eyvind Johnson (Sweden) for a narrative art, farseeing in lands and ages, in the service of freedom.
Harry Martinson (Sweden) for writings that catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos.
1973 Patrick White (Australia) for an epic and psychological narrative art which has introduced a new continent into literature.
1972 Heinrich Böll (Germany) for his writing which through its combination of a broad perspective on his time and a sensitive skill in characterization has contributed to a renewal of German literature.
1971 Pablo Neruda (Chile) for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent's destiny and dreams.
1970 Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn (U.S.S.R.) for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature.
1969 Samuel Beckett (Ireland) for his writing, which - in new forms for the novel and drama - in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation.
1968 Yasunari Kawabata (Japan) for his narrative mastery, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind.
1967 Miguel Angel Asturias (Guatemala) for his vivid literary achievement, deep-rooted in the national traits and traditions of Indian peoples of Latin America.
1966 The prize was divided equally between:
Shmuel Yosef Agnon (Israel) for his profoundly characteristic narrative art with motifs from the life of the Jewish people.
Nelly Sachs (Germany) for her outstanding lyrical and dramatic writing, which interprets Israel's destiny with touching strength.
1965 Michail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov (U.S.S.R.) for the artistic power and integrity with which, in his epic of the Don, he has given expression to a historic phase in the life of the Russian people.
1964 Jean-Paul Sartre (France) for his work which, rich in ideas and filled with the spirit of freedom and the quest for truth, has exerted a far-reaching influence on our age. (Declined the prize.)
1963 Giorgos Seferis, pen-name of Giorgos Seferiadis (Greece) for his eminent lyrical writing, inspired by a deep feeling for the Hellenic world of culture.
1962 John Steinbeck (U.S.A.) for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception.
1961 Ivo Andri´c (Yugoslavia) for the epic force with which he has traced themes and depicted human destinies drawn from the history of his country.
1960 Saint-John Perse, pen-name of Alexis Leger (France) for the soaring flight and the evocative imagery of his poetry which in a visionary fashion reflects the conditions of our time.
1959 Salvatore Quasimodo (Italy) for his lyrical poetry, which with classical fire expresses the tragic experience of life in our own times.
1958 Boris Leonidovich Pasternak (U.S.S.R.) for his important achievement both in contemporary lyrical poetry and in the field of the great Russian epic tradition. (Accepted first, later caused by the authorities of his country to decline the prize.)
1957 Albert Camus (France) for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times.
1956 Juan Ramón Jiménez (Spain) for his lyrical poetry, which in Spanish language constitutes an example of high spirit and artistical purity.
1955 Halldór Kiljan Laxness (Iceland) for his vivid epic power which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland.
1954 Ernest Miller Hemingway (U.S.A.) for his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea ,and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style.
1953 Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (United Kingdom) for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values.
1952 François Mauriac (France) for the deep spiritual insight and the artistic intensity with which he has in his novels penetrated the drama of human life.
1951 Pär Fabian Lagerkvist (Sweden) for the artistic vigour and true independence of mind with which he endeavours in his poetry to find answers to the eternal questions confronting mankind.
1950 Earl Bertrand Arthur William Russell (United Kingdom) in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought.
1949 William Faulkner (U.S.A.) for his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel.
1948 Thomas Stearns Eliot (United Kingdom) for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry.
1947 André Paul Guillaume Gide (France) for his comprehensive and artistically significant writings, in which human problems and conditions have been presented with a fearless love of truth and keen psychological insight.
1946 Hermann Hesse (Switzerland) for his inspired writings which, while growing in boldness and penetration, exemplify the classical humanitarian ideals and high qualities of style.
1945 Gabriela Mistral, pen-name of Lucila Godoy y Alca-Yaga (Chile) for her lyric poetry which, inspired by powerful emotions, has made her name a symbol of the idealistic aspirations of the entire Latin American world.
1944 Johannes Vilhelm Jensen (Denmark) for the rare strength and fertility of his poetic imagination with which is combined an intellectual curiosity of wide scope and a bold, freshly creative style.
1943-1940 No Prize.
1939 Frans Eemil Sillanpää (Finland) for his deep understanding of his country's peasantry and the exquisite art with which he has portrayed their way of life and their relationship with Nature.
1938 Pearl Buck, pen-name of Pearl Walsh née Sydenstricker (U.S.A.) for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces.
1937 Roger Martin Du Gard (France) for the artistic power and truth with which he has depicted human conflict as well as some fundamental aspects of contemporary life in his novel cycle Les Thibault.
1936 Eugene Gladstone O'Neill (U.S.A.) for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy.
1935 No Prize
1934 Luigi Pirandello (Italy) for his bold and ingenious revival of dramatic and scenic art.
1933 Ivan Alekseyevich Bunin (U.S.S.R) for the strict artistry with which he has carried on the classical Russian traditions in prose writing.
1932 John Galsworthy (United Kingdom) for his distinguished art of narration which takes its highest form in The Forsythe Saga.
1931 Erik Axel Karlfeldt (Sweden) The poetry of Erik Axel Karlfeldt.
1930 Sinclair Lewis (U.S.A.) for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters.
1929 Thomas Mann (Germany) principally for his great novel, Buddenbrooks, which has won steadily increased recognition as one of the classic works of contemporary literature.
1928 Sigrid Undset (Norway) principally for her powerful descriptions of Northern life during the Middle Ages.
1927 Henri Bergson (France) in recognition of his rich and vitalizing ideas and the brilliant skill with which they have been presented.
1926 Grazia Deledda, pen-name of Grazia Madesani née Deledda (Italy) for her idealistically inspired writings which with plastic clarity picture the life on her native island and with depth and sympathy deal with human problems in general.
1925 George Bernard Shaw (United Kingdom) for his work which is marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty.
1924 Wladyslaw Stanislaw Reymont, pen-name of Reyment (Poland) for his great national epic, The Peasants.
1923 William Butler Yeats (Ireland) for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.
1922 Jacinto Benavente (Spain) for the happy manner in which he has continued the illustrious traditions of the Spanish drama.
1921 Anatole France, pen-name of Jacques Anatole Thibault (France) in recognition of his brilliant literary achievements, characterized as they are by a nobility of style, a profound human sympathy, grace, and a true Gallic temperament.
1920 Knut Pedersen Hamsun (Norway) for his monumental work, Growth of the Soil.
1919 Carl Friedrich Georg Spitteler (Switzerland) in special appreciation of his epic, Olympian Spring.
1918 No Prize
1917 The prize was divided equally between:  
Karl Adolph Gjellerup (Denmark) for his varied and rich poetry, which is inspired by lofty ideals.
Henrik Pontoppidan (Denmark) for his authentic descriptions of present-day life in Denmark.
1916 Carl Gustaf Verner Von Heidenstam (Sweden) in recognition of his significance as the leading representative of a new era in our literature.
1915 Romain Rolland (France) as a tribute to the lofty idealism of his literary production and to the sympathy and love of truth with which he has described different types of human beings.
1914 No Prize
1913 Rabindranath Tagore (India) because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West.
1912 Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann (Germany) primarily in recognition of his fruitful, varied and outstanding production in the realm of dramatic art.
1911 Count Maurice (Mooris) Polidore Marie Bernhard Maeterlinck (Belgium) in appreciation of his many sided literary activities, and especially of his dramatic works, which are distinguished by a wealth of imagination and by a poetic fancy, which reveals, sometimes in the guise of a fairy tale, a deep inspiration, while in a mysterious way they appeal to the readers' own feelings and stimulate their imaginations.
1910 Paul Johann Ludwig Heyse (Germany) as a tribute to the consummate artistry, permeated with idealism, which he has demonstrated during his long productive career as a lyric poet, dramatist, novelist and writer of world-renowned short stories.
1909 Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf (Sweden) in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings.
1908 Rudolf Christoph Eucken (Germany) in recognition of his earnest search for truth, his penetrating power of thought, his wide range of vision, and the warmth and strength in presentation with which in his numerous works he has vindicated and developed an idealistic philosophy of life.
1907 Rudyard Kipling (United Kingdom) in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterize the creations of this world-famous author.
1906 Giosuè Carducci (Italy) not only in consideration of his deep learning and critical research, but above all as a tribute to the creative energy, freshness of style, and lyrical force which characterize his poetic masterpieces.
1905 Henryk Sienkiewicz (Poland) because of his outstanding merits as an epic writer.
1904 The prize was divided equally between:  
Fréderic Mistral (France) in recognition of the fresh originality and true inspiration of his poetic production, which faithfully reflects the natural scenery and native spirit of his people, and, in addition, his significant work as a Provençal philologist.
José Echegaray y Eizaguirre (Spain) in recognition of the numerous and brilliant compositions which, in an individual and original manner, have revived the great traditions of the Spanish drama.
1903 Bjørnstjerne Martinus Bjørnson (Norway) as a tribute to his noble, magnificent and versatile poetry, which has always been distinguished by both the freshness of its inspiration and the rare purity of its spirit.
1902 Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen (Germany) the greatest living master of the art of historical writing, with special reference to his monumental work, A history of Rome.
1901 Sully Prudhomme, pen-name of René François Armand (France) in special recognition of his poetic composition, which gives evidence of lofty idealism, artistic perfection and a rare combination of the qualities of both heart and intellect.