The Swedish Academy announced today that novelist Doris Lessing has won the Nobel Prize in literature. She is the eleventh woman to win literature’s biggest prize since the Nobel’s inception in 1901. The award, which will be presented by Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf at a ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, includes an honorarium of 10 million Swedish kronor (approximately $1.53 million).
Lessing, who is a native of Persia, was raised in Rhodesia and now resides in London, will turn eighty-eight on October 22. Known for her candid writing about the lives of women as well as political injustices, Lessing has courted controversy throughout her career. After she criticized white colonialism in her first book, The Grass Is Singing (Michael Joseph, 1950), governments in southern Rhodesia and South Africa declared Lessing a "prohibited alien." Lessing’s breakthrough novel, The Golden Notebook (Simon & Schuster, 1962), prompted critics to dub her "unfeminine."
The Swedish Academy described the novel as "a pioneering work" that "informed the 20th century view of the male-female relationship," and called Lessing "that epicist of the female experience, who with skepticism, fire, and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny."
Lessing has published more than fifty novels and collections of poetry and short stories over her five-decade career. Her most recent novel, The Cleft, was published by HarperCollins in July.