Every Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

Writers from a variety of countries have nabbed the award

Albert Camus And Torun Moberg
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When Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel died in 1896, he provided for five prizes in his will, including the Nobel Prize in literature. The honor goes to writers who've produced "the most outstanding work in an ideal direction." Nobel's family, however, fought the provisions in the will, so five years would go by before the awards first went out. With this list, discover the writers who've lived up to Nobel's ​ideals from 1901 to the present. 

1901: Sully Prudhomme (1837–1907)

War Correspondants, Including Rudyard Kipling, On Glover Island
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French writer. Original name Rene Francois Armand Prudhomme. Sully Prudhomme won the first Nobel Prize for Literature in 1901 "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."

1902: Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen (1817–1903)

German-Nordic writer. Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen was referred to as "the greatest living master of the art of historical writing, with special reference to his monumental work, A History of Rome" when he received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1902.

1903: Bjørnstjerne Martinus Bjørnson (1832–1910)

Norwegian writer. Bjørnstjerne Martinus Bjørnson received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1903 "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."

1904: Frédéric Mistral (1830–1914) and José Echegaray y Eizaguirre (1832–1916)

Frédéric Mistral: French writer. Besides many short poems, Frédéric Mistral wrote four verse romances. He also published a Provençal dictionary and wrote memoirs. He received the 1904 Nobel Prize in literature: "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: Spanish writer. José Echegaray y Eizaguirre received the 1904 Nobel Prize in literature "in recognition of the numerous and brilliant compositions which, in an individual and original manner, have revived the great traditions of the Spanish drama."

1905: Henryk Sienkiewicz (1846–1916)

Polish writer. Henryk Sienkiewicz was awarded the 1905 Nobel Prize in Literature "because of his outstanding merits as an epic writer." Probably his most widely translated work is "Quo Vadis?" (1896), a study of Roman society in the time of Emperor Nero.

1906: Giosuè Carducci (1835–1907)

Italian writer. Professor of literature at the University of Bologna from 1860 to 1904, Giosuè Carducci was a scholar, editor, orator, critic, and patriot. He was awarded the 1906 Nobel Prize in literature "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."

1907: Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936)

British writer. Rudyard Kipling wrote novels, poems, and short stories—mostly set in India and Burma (now known as Myanmar). He was the 1907 Nobel Prize laureate in literature "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."

1908: Rudolf Christoph Eucken (1846–1926)

German writer. Rudolf Christoph Eucken received the 1908 Nobel Prize in Literature "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."

1909: Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf (1858 –1940)

Swedish writer. Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf turned away from literary realism and wrote in a romantic and imaginative manner, vividly evoking the peasant life and landscape of northern Sweden. She received the 1909 Nobel Prize in literature "in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings."

1910: Paul Johann Ludwig Heyse (1830–1914)

German writer. Paul Johann Ludwig von Heyse was a German novelist, poet, and dramatist. He received the 1910 Nobel Prize in literature "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."

1911: Count Maurice (Mooris) Polidore Marie Bernhard Maeterlinck (1862–1949)

Bengali Poet Rabindranath Tagore
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Belgian writer. Maurice Maeterlinck developed his strongly mystical ideas in a number of prose works, among them "Le Trésor des humbles" (1896, "The Treasure of the Humble"), "La Sagesse et la destinée" (1898, "Wisdom and Destiny"), and "Le Temple enseveli" (1902, "The Buried Temple"). He received the 1911 Nobel Prize in Literature "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."

1912: Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann (1862–1946)

German writer. Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann received the 1912 Nobel Prize in literature "primarily in recognition of his fruitful, varied and outstanding production in the realm of dramatic art."

1913: Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941)

Indian writer. Rabindranath Tagore was awarded the 1913 Nobel Prize in literature "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." In 1915, he was knighted by the British King George V. Tagore renounced his knighthood in 1919 following the Amritsar massacre or nearly 400 Indian demonstrators.


The prize money was allocated to the special fund of this prize section.

1915: Romain Rolland (1866–1944)

French writer. Rolland's most famous work is "Jean Christophe," a partly autobiographical novel that won him the 1915 Nobel Prize in literature. He also received the prize "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."

1916: Carl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam (1859–1940)

Swedish writer. Received the 1916 Nobel Prize for literature "in recognition of his significance as the leading representative of a new era in our literature."

1917: Karl Adolph Gjellerup (1857–1919) and Henrik Pontoppidan (1857–1943)

Karl Gjellerup: Danish writer. Gjellerup received the 1917 Nobel Prize for literature "for his varied and rich poetry, which is inspired by lofty ideals."

Henrik Pontoppidan: Danish writer. Pontoppidan received the 1917 Nobel Prize for literature "for his authentic descriptions of present-day life in Denmark."


The prize money was allocated to the special fund of this prize section.

1919: Carl Friedrich Georg Spitteler (1845–1924)

Swiss writer. He received the 1919 Nobel Prize for literature "in special appreciation of his epic, Olympian Spring."

1920: Knut Pedersen Hamsun (1859–1952)

Norwegian writer. He received the 1920 Nobel Prize for literature "for his monumental work, Growth of the Soil."

1921: Anatole France (1844–1924)

Bernard Shaw at 90
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French writer, pseudonym for Jacques Anatole Francois Thibault. He is often thought of as the greatest French writer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1921 "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."

1922: Jacinto Benavente (1866–1954)

Spanish writer. Jacinto Benavente received the 1922 Nobel Prize in literature "for the happy manner in which he has continued the illustrious traditions of the Spanish drama."

1923: William Butler Yeats (1865–1939)

Irish writer. William Butler Yeats received the 1923 Nobel Prize for literature "for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation."

1924: Wladyslaw Stanislaw Reymont (1868–1925)

Polish writer. Wladyslaw Reymont received the 1924 Nobel Prize for literature "for his great national epic, The Peasants."

1925: George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950)

British-Irish writer. Irish-born writer George Bernard Shaw is considered the most significant British dramatist since Shakespeare. He was a playwright, essayist, political activist, lecturer, novelist, philosopher, revolutionary evolutionist, and most prolific letter writer in literary history. Received the 1925 Nobel Prize "for his work which is marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty."

1926: Grazia Deledda (1871–1936)

Italian writer, pseudonym for Grazia Madesani née Deledda. She received the 1926 Nobel Prize for literature "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."

1927: Henri Bergson (1859–1941)

French writer. Henri Bergson received the 1927 Nobel Prize for literature "in recognition of his rich and vitalizing ideas and the brilliant skill with which they have been presented."

1928: Sigrid Undset (1882–1949)

Norwegian writer. Sigrid Undset received the 1928 Nobel Prize for literature "for her powerful descriptions of Northern life during the Middle Ages."

1929: Thomas Mann (1875–1955)

German writer. Thomas Mann won the 1929 Nobel Laureate in literature "principally for his great novel, Buddenbrooks, which has won steadily increased recognition as one of the classic works of contemporary literature." 

1930: Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951)

American writer. Sinclair Lewis received the 1930 Nobel Prize for literature "for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of characters."

1931: Erik Axel Karlfeldt (1864–1931)

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Swedish writer. Erik Karlfeldt received the Nobel Prize for his poetic body of work.

1932: John Galsworthy (1867–1933)

British writer. John Galsworthy received the 1932 Nobel Prize for literature "for his distinguished art of narration which takes its highest form in The Forsyte Saga."

1933: Ivan Alekseyevich Bunin (1870–1953)

Russian writer. Ivan Bunin received the 1933 Nobel Prize in literature "for the strict artistry with which he has carried on the classical Russian traditions in prose writing."

1934: Luigi Pirandello (1867–1936)

Italian writer. Luigi Pirandello received the 1934 Nobel Prize in literature "for his bold and ingenious revival of dramatic and scenic art."


The prize money was allocated to the main fund and the special fund of this prize section.

1936: Eugene Gladstone O'Neill (1888–1953)

American writer. Eugene (Gladstone) O'Neill won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1936 "for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy." He has also won Pulitzer Prizes for four of his plays: "Beyond the Horizon" (1920); "Anna Christie" (1922); "Strange Interlude" (1928); and "Long Day's Journey Into Night" (1957).

1937: Roger Martin du Gard (1881–1958)

French writer. Roger du Gard received the 1937 Nobel Prize for literature "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."

1938: Pearl Buck (1892–1973)

American writer. Pseudonym for Pearl Walsh née Sydenstricker. She received the 1938 Nobel Prize in literature "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces."

1939: Frans Eemil Sillanpää (1888–1964)

Finnish writer. Frans Sillanpää received the 1939 Nobel Prize in literature "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."


The prize money was allocated to the main fund and the special fund of this prize section.

1944: Johannes Vilhelm Jensen (1873–1950)

Nobel Prize Winners of 1945
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Danish writer. Johannes Jensen received the 1944 Nobel Prize in literature "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."

1945: Gabriela Mistral (1830–1914)

Chilean writer. Pseudonym for Lucila Godoy Y Alcayaga. She received the 1945 Nobel Prize in literature "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."

1946: Hermann Hesse (1877–1962)

German-Swiss writer. By 1946, he received the Nobel Prize in literature "for his inspired writings which, while growing in boldness and penetration, exemplify the classical humanitarian ideals and high qualities of style."

1947: André Paul Guillaume Gide (1869–1951)

French writer. He received the 1947 Nobel Prize in literature "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."

1948: Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888–1965)

British-American writer. He received the 1948 Nobel Prize in literature "for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry."

1949: William Faulkner (1897–1962)

American writer. He received the 1949 Nobel in literature "for his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel."

1950: Earl (Bertrand Arthur William) Russell (1872–1970)

British writer. Received the 1950 Nobel in literature "in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought."

1951: Pär Fabian Lagerkvist (1891–1974)

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Swedish writer. He received the 1951 Nobel in literature "for the artistic vigor and true independence of mind with which he endeavors in his poetry to find answers to the eternal questions confronting mankind."

1952: François Mauriac (1885–1970)

French writer. He received the 1952 Nobel in literature "for the deep spiritual insight and the artistic intensity with which he has in his novels penetrated the drama of human life."

1953: Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874–1965)

British writer. He received the 1953 Nobel in literature "for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values."

1954: Ernest Miller Hemingway (1899–1961)

American writer. Brevity was his specialty. He received the 1954 Nobel in literature "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."

1955: Halldór Kiljan Laxness (1902–1998)

Icelandic writer. He received the 1955 Nobel in literature "for his vivid epic power which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland."

1956: Juan Ramón Jiménez Mantecón (1881–1958)

Spanish writer. He received the 1956 Nobel in literature "for his lyrical poetry, which in the Spanish language constitutes an example of high spirit and artistic purity."

1957: Albert Camus (1913–1960)

French writer. He was a famous existentialist and author of "The Plague" and "The Stranger." He received the Nobel Prize in literature "for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times."

1958: Boris Leonidovich Pasternak (1890–1960)

Russian writer. He received the 1958 Nobel in literature "for his important achievement both in contemporary lyrical poetry and in the field of the great Russian epic tradition." Russian authorities led him to decline the award after he'd accepted it.

1959: Salvatore Quasimodo (1901–1968)

Italian writer. He received the Nobel Prize in literature "for his lyrical poetry, which with classical fire expresses the tragic experience of life in our own times."

1960: Saint-John Perse (1887–1975)

French writer. Pseudonym for Alexis Léger. He received the 1960 Nobel in literature "for the soaring flight and the evocative imagery of his poetry which in a visionary fashion reflects the conditions of our time."

1961: Ivo Andric (1892–1975)

Rene Maheu (1905 - 1975, right), Director-General of UNESCO, welcomes Japanese author Yasunari Kawabata (1899 - 1972), winner of that year's Nobel Prize for Literature, to Paris, 18th December 1968
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Yugoslavian writer. He received the 1961 Nobel Prize in literature "for the epic force with which he has traced themes and depicted human destinies drawn from the history of his country."

1962: John Steinbeck (1902–1968)

American writer. He received the 1962 Nobel Prize in literature "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humor and keen social perception."

1963: Giorgos Seferis (1900–1971)

Greek writer. Pseudonym for Giorgos Seferiadis. He received the 1963 Nobel Prize in literature "for his eminent lyrical writing, inspired by a deep feeling for the Hellenic world of culture."

1964: Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980)

French writer. Jean-Paul Sartre was a philosopher, dramatist, novelist and political journalist who was a leading exponent of existentialism. He received the 1964 Nobel Prize in literature "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."

1965: Michail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov (1905–1984)

Russian writer. Received the 1965 Nobel Prize in literature "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."

1966: Shmuel Yosef Agnon (1888–1970) and Nelly Sachs (1891–1970)

Shmuel Agnon: Israeli writer. He received the 1966 Nobel Prize in literature "for his profoundly characteristic narrative art with motifs from the life of the Jewish people."

Nelly Sachs: Swedish writer. She received the 1966 Nobel Prize in literature "for her outstanding lyrical and dramatic writing, which interprets Israel's destiny with touching strength."

1967: Miguel Angel Asturias (1899–1974)

Guatemalan writer. Miguel Asturias received the 1967 Nobel Prize in literature "for his vivid literary achievement, deep-rooted in the national traits and traditions of Indian peoples of Latin America."

1968: Yasunari Kawabata (1899–1972)

Japanese writer. Yasunari Kawabata received the 1968 Nobel Prize in literature "for his narrative mastery, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind."

1969: Samuel Beckett (1906–1989)

Irish writer. Samuel Beckett received the 1969 Nobel Prize in literature "for his writing, which—in new forms for the novel and drama—in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation."

1970: Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn (1918–2008)

Russian writer. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn received the 1970 Nobel Prize in literature "for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature."

1971: Pablo Neruda (1904–1973)

Pablo Neruda
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Chilean writer. Pseudonym for Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. Pablo Neruda
received the 1971 Nobel Prize in literature "for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent's destiny and dreams."

1972: Heinrich Böll (1917–1985)

German writer. Heinrich Böll received the 1972 Nobel Prize in literature "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."

1973: Patrick White (1912–1990)

Australian writer. Patrick White received the 1973 Nobel Prize in literature "for an epic and psychological narrative art which has introduced a new continent into literature."

1974: Eyvind Johnson (1900–1976) and Harry Martinson (1904–1978)

Eyvind Johnson: Swedish writer. Johnson received the 1974 Nobel Prize in literature "for a narrative art, far-seeing in lands and ages, in the service of freedom."

Harry Martinson: Swedish writer. Martinson received the 1974 Nobel Prize in literature "for writings that catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos."

1975: Eugenio Montale (1896–1981)

Italian writer. Eugenio Montale received the 1975 Nobel Prize in literature "for his distinctive poetry which, with great artistic sensitivity, has interpreted human values under the sign of an outlook on life with no illusions."

1976: Saul Bellow (1915–2005)

American writer. Saul Bellow received the 1976 Nobel Prize in literature "for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work."

1977: Vicente Aleixandre (1898–1984)

Spanish writer. Vicente Aleixandre received the 1977 Nobel Prize in literature "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."

1978: Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904–1991)

Polish-American writer. Isaac Singer received the 1978 Nobel Prize in literature "for his impassioned narrative art which, with roots in a Polish-Jewish cultural tradition, brings universal human conditions to life." 

1979: Odysseus Elytis (1911–1996)

Greek writer. Pseudonym for Odysseus Alepoudhelis. He received the 1979 Nobel Prize in literature "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."

1980: Czeslaw Milosz (1911–2004)

Polish-American writer. Czeslaw Milosz received the 1980 Nobel Prize in literature for voicing "man's exposed condition in a world of severe conflicts."

1981: Elias Canetti (1908–1994)

Ulf Andersen Portraits - Naguib Mahfouz
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Bulgarian-British writer. Elias Canett received the 1981 Nobel Prize in literature "for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas, and artistic power."

1982: Gabriel García Márquez (1928–2014)

Colombian writer. Gabriel García Márquez received the 1982 Nobel Prize in literature "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."

1983: William Golding (1911–1993)

British writer. William Golding received the 1983 Nobel Prize in literature "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."

1984: Jaroslav Seifert (1901–1986)

Czech writer. Jaroslav Seifert received the 1984 Nobel Prize in literature "for his poetry which endowed with freshness, sensuality, and rich inventiveness provides a liberating image of the indomitable spirit and versatility of man."

1985: Claude Simon (1913–2005)

French writer. Claude Simon received the 1985 Nobel Prize in literature for combining "the poet's and the painter's creativeness with a deepened awareness of time in the depiction of the human condition." 

1986: Wole Soyinka (1934–)

Nigerian writer. Wole Soyinka received the 1986 Nobel Prize in literature for fashioning "the drama of existence" from the wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones."

1987: Joseph Brodsky (1940–1996)

Russian-American writer. Received the 1987 Nobel Prize in literature "for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity."

1988: Naguib Mahfouz (1911–2006)

Egyptian writer. Naguib Mahfouz received the 1988 Nobel Prize in literature "who, through works rich in nuanc—now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous—has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind."

1989: Camilo José Cela (1916–2002)

Spanish writer. Camilo Cela received the 1989 Nobel Prize in literature "for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man's vulnerability."

1990: Octavio Paz (1914–1998)

Mexican writer. Octavio Paz received the 1990 Nobel Prize in literature "for impassioned writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity."

1991: Nadine Gordimer (1923–2014)

Toni Morrison Signs Copies Of 'Home'
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South African writer. Nadine Gordimer was recognized for the 1991 Nobel Prize in literature "through her magnificent epic writing has—in the words of Alfred Nobel—been of very great benefit to humanity."

1992: Derek Walcott (1930–2017)

Saint Lucian writer. Derek Walcott received the 1992 Nobel Prize in literature "for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment." 

1993: Toni Morrison (1931–)

American writer. Toni Morrison received the 1993 Nobel Prize in literature for "novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import," giving "life to an essential aspect of American reality."

1994: Kenzaburo Oe (1935–)

Japanese writer. Kenzaburo Oe received the 1994 Nobel Prize in literature because he "with poetic force creates an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today." 

1995: Seamus Heaney (1939–2013)

Irish writer. Seamus Heaney received the 1995 Nobel Prize in literature "for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past."

1996: Wislawa Szymborska (1923–2012)

Polish writer. Wislawa Szymborska received the 1996 Nobel Prize in literature "for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality."

1997: Dario Fo (1926–2016)

Italian writer. Dario Fo received the 1917 Nobel Prize in literature because he is one "who emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden."

1998: José Saramago (1922–2010)

Portuguese writer. José Saramago received the 1998 Nobel Prize in literature because he is one "who with parables sustained by imagination, compassion, and irony continually enable us once again to apprehend an illusory reality."

1999: Günter Grass (1927–2015)

German writer. Günter Grass received the 1999 Nobel Prize in literature because his "frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history."

2000: Gao Xingjian (1940–)

Chinese-French writer. Gao Xingjian was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 2000 "for a œuvre of universal validity, bitter insights, and linguistic ingenuity, which has opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama."


2001: V. S. Naipaul (1932–2018)

British writer. Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 2001 "for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories."

2002: Imre Kertész (1929–2016)

Hungarian writer. Imre Kertész was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 2002 "for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history."

2003: J. M. Coetzee (1940–)

South African writer. The Nobel Prize in literature in 2003 was awarded to J. M. Coetzee, "who in innumerable guises portrays the surprising involvement of the outsider." 

2004: Elfriede Jelinek (1946–)

​Austrian writer. The Nobel Prize in literature in 2004 was awarded to Elfriede Jelinek "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."

2005: Harold Pinter (1930–2008)

British writer. The Nobel Prize in literature in 2005 was awarded to Harold Pinter, "who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms."

2006: Orhan Pamuk (1952–)

Turkish writer. The Nobel Prize in literature in 2006 was awarded to Orhan Pamuk, "who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures." His works were controversial (and banned) in Turkey.

2007: Doris Lessing (1919–2013)

British writer (born in Persia, now Iran). The Nobel Prize in literature 2006 was awarded to Doris Lessing for what the Swedish Academy termed "skepticism, fire and visionary power." She is perhaps most famous for "The Golden Notebook," a seminal work in feminist literature.

2008: J. M. G. Le Clézio (1940–)

​French writer. The Nobel Prize in literature in 2008 was awarded to J. M. G. Le Clézio as an "author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization."

2009: Herta Müller (1953–)

​German writer. The Nobel Prize in literature in 2009 was awarded to Herta Müller, "who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed." 

2010: Mario Vargas Llosa (1936–)

​Peruvian writer. The Nobel Prize in literature in 2010 was awarded to Mario Vargas Llosa "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat."

2011 and Beyond

Ulf Andersen Portraits - Mo Yan
Ulf Andersen / Getty Images
2011: Tomas Tranströmer (1931–2015)

Swedish poet. The Nobel Prize in literature in 2010 was awarded to Tomas Tranströmer “because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality.”

2012: Mo Yan (1955–)

Chinese writer. The Nobel Prize in literature in 2012 was awarded to Mo Yan "who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history, and the contemporary."

2013: Alice Munro (1931–)

Canadian writer. The Nobel Prize in literature in 2013 was awarded to Alice Munro, "master of the contemporary short story."

2014: Patrick Modiano (1945–)

French writer. The Nobel Prize in literature in 2014 was awarded to Patrick Modiano "for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation."

2015: Svetlana Alexievich (1948–)

Ukrainian-Belarusian writer. The Nobel Prize in literature in 2015 was awarded to Svetlana Alexievich "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time."

2016: Bob Dylan (1941–)

American songwriter. Bob Dylan received the 2016 literature Nobel “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

2017: Kazuo Ishiguro (1954–)

Japanese writer. Kazuo Ishiguro received the 2017 literature Nobel because he, “in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.”


The awarding of the prize was postponed due to financial and sexual assault investigations at the Swedish Academy, which decides the literature prize, and was scheduled to be awarded coinciding with the 2019 award.