Stockholm (AFP)

Two members of the Nobel Literature Committee announced Monday their resignation, one of which said it refuses to place "the literary work above politics", in reference to the coronation of Peter Handke, criticized for his pro-Serb positions during the wars of the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia.

Kristoffer Leandoer and Gun-Britt Sundström both made their decision not to participate in the work of the Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy for which they had been appointed for two years.

Their resignation, confirmed by the academy, comes a little more than a week before the Nobel prize-giving ceremonies on December 10, the anniversary of the death of Swedish industrialist and patron Alfred Nobel.

Kristoffer Leandoer said he did not have "the patience" to follow the internal reforms launched by the academy after the sexual assault scandal that caused it to implode in 2017.

Gun-Britt Sundström, for one, invoked, among other reasons, the attribution of the Nobel to Peter Handke.

While she says she is "happy" to have taken part in the designation of the Polish poet Olga Tokarczuk for the 2018 prize, she says she is opposed to the coronation of the Austrian writer for the 2019 edition.

"The choice of the 2019 laureate was not limited to rewarding a literary work but was also interpreted, both inside and outside the academy, as a position that places literature above the + policy + ", she wrote to the newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

"This ideology is not mine," she added.

The Swedish Academy announced in October the dedication of the work of Peter Handke, described as "heir to Goethe", but whose pro-Serb positions during the conflict in the Balkans in the 1990s had sparked violent controversies by the past.

After postponing the announcement of the 2018 Literature Award because of a #MeToo scandal, two awards were announced this year.

In 1996, a year after the end of the conflicts in Bosnia and Croatia, Peter Handke published a pamphlet, "Justice for Serbia", which sparked controversy.

The 76-year-old author, who lives near Paris, in 1999 condemned the Western bombing of Serbia, which forced Slobodan Milosevic, a strong man from Belgrade throughout the period, to withdraw his troops from Kosovo.

In 2006, he went to the funeral of Milosevic, who died before hearing his verdict for war crimes before international justice.

Kristoffer Leandoer and Gun-Britt Sundström were external members of the Nobel Literature Committee of the Swedish Academy, appointed to accompany the recovery of the academy after its setbacks in 2017, but were not permanent members of the institution.

© 2019 AFP