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Two members leave Nobel literature committee, lamenting slow pace of change

FILE PHOTO: Snow is piled on the bust of Alfred Nobel outside the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo December 9, 2013. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz/File Photo

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Two external members of the Nobel literature prize committee quit on Monday, with one of them saying the work to reform the scandal-hit Swedish Academy was taking too long.

The 233-year-old Academy was forced to introduce a several new measures after a sex scandal involving the husband of a former member escalated into a bitter row that resulted in them having to postpone the award for 2018.

One of the actions taken was adding external members to assist the Nobel committee choose prize candidates for the 18-man strong Academy to vote on.

“I leave my job in the Nobel Committee because I have neither the patience nor the time to wait for the result of the work to change that has been started,” author Kristoffer Leandoer said in an article published in Svenska Dagbladet. “The Academy and I have a different perspective on time, one year is far too long in my life and far too short in life of the Academy.”

Leandoer said quitting was not linked to the decision to award the 2019 prize to controversial Austrian writer Peter Handke, for which the Academy has received criticism both domestically and internationally.

The Academy confirmed in a statement that Leandoer and Gun-Britt Sundstrom had left the Nobel committee, which until today was comprised of four members of the Swedish Academy and five external members.

Sundstrom could not immediately be reached for comment.

“We are grateful for the significant effort they made during the year and we are now reviewing how the work of the Nobel Committee will be organized for the 2020 Nobel Prize in literature, “ Mats Malm, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, said in the statement.

Reporting by Johan Ahlander

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