Nobel season comes amid war in Ukraine

Nobel Prize season approaches at a time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has ended decades of almost uninterrupted peace in Europe and raised the risk of nuclear disaster.

The Nobel committees never give the slightest indication of who will win the prizes for Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, Literature, Economics or Peace. Announcements for the awards will begin on Monday.

However, there are no shortage of urgent causes worthy of the attention that winning the world’s most prestigious award brings: wars in Ukraine and Ethiopia, energy and food supply disruptions, rising inequality, the climate crisis, and the lingering consequences of the COVID pandemic. -19.

Scientific Nobels honor complex achievements that are beyond the comprehension of most. In contrast, the peace and literature awards are available to a global audience, and the distinctions—or perceived omissions—often provoke strong emotional reactions.

Several members of the European Parliament have called for the committee that awards the Nobel Peace Prize to recognize President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people for their resistance to the Russian invasion.

While understandable, the choice is unlikely, because the Nobel committee traditionally awards the prize to those who end conflicts, not those who lead them, said Dan Smith, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Smith thinks the most likely candidates are those fighting climate change or the International Atomic Energy Agency, who have hosted them before. This time his efforts to prevent a radioactive catastrophe at the Zaporizhia nuclear plant would be recognized, amid the fighting in Ukraine and his work against nuclear proliferation.

Few would have bet it would be received by Zanzibar-born, British-based Abdulrazak Gurnah, whose works explore the personal and social impacts of colonialism and migration.

Gurnah is only the sixth African-born Nobel laureate in literature, and the prize has often been criticized for overly focusing on European and North American writers. Furthermore, of the 118 winners, only 16 are women.

An obvious candidate is Indian novelist and free speech activist Salman Rushdie, who spent years under protection since Iranian ayatollahs sentenced him to death for his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses.” Rushdie, 75, was seriously injured in August during a festival in upstate New York.

The list of candidates includes the Kenyan Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, the Japanese Haruki Murakami, the Norwegian Jon Fosse, the Antiguan Jamaican Kincaid and the French Annie Ernaux.

Announcements begin on Monday with the Medicine award and continue with Physics on Tuesday, Chemistry on Wednesday and Literature on Thursday. The Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on October 7 and the Economics Prize on October 10.

The award ceremony, which includes 10 million Swedish kronor (about $900,000), is on December 10.

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Nobel season comes amid war in Ukraine