The Royal Swedish Academy on Thursday awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature to American poet Louise Glück “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal”.

Glück is the first female poet to win the prize since Polish writer Wisława Szymborska won in 1996, according to The New York Times. Other poets to have received the award include Seamus Heaney, the Irish poet, who won in 1995. Glück is also the first American to win since Bob Dylan in 2016.

Glück was born 1943 in New York and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Apart from her writing she is a professor of English at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

She made her debut in 1968 with Firstborn, and was soon acclaimed as one of the most prominent poets in American contemporary literature. She has received several prestigious awards, among them the Pulitzer Prize (1993) and the National Book Award (2014).

For this year’s award, authors often considered contenders include Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, Kenya’s Ngugi Wa Thiong’o and Canadian poet Anne Carson. British bookmakers Ladbrokes consider Carson its favourite, ranking her 5-1, followed by Russian novelist Lyudmila Ulitskaya, Canadian author Margaret Atwood and Guadeloupe-born writer Maryse Conde.

The award comes with a gold medal and 10 million krona [approximately Rs 8.20 crore].

Last year, the academy was criticised after it awarded the prize to Peter Handke, an Austrian author and playwright who is believed to be an apologist for Serbian war crimes, according to AP. Several countries, including Bosnia, Albania, and Turkey protested, boycotting the Nobel awards ceremony. A member of the committee that nominates candidates for the prize also resigned.

The Austrian author was censured after he had alleged that the Muslim community in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital city of Sarajevo had massacred themselves, but blamed the Serbians instead. He actively defended Serbian dictator and alleged war criminal Slobodan Milosevic, who was charged in 2001 with the genocide in Bosnia during the war between 1992 and 1995.

Following Milosevic’s death in 2006, Handke had spoken at his funeral in Serbia and said that he was “close to Yugoslavia, close to Serbia, close to Slobodan Milosevic.”

Before that in 2018, the academy award in literature was postponed after sex abuse allegations rocked the Swedish Academy.

On Wednesday, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Emmanuelle Charpentier of France and Jennifer A Doudna of the United States for the development of a method for genome editing.

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded on Tuesday went to Roger Penrose for black hole discovery and Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez for discovering a supermassive compact object at the centre of galaxy.

On Monday, the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded jointly to Americans Harvey J Alter and Charles Rice along with Briton Michael Houghton for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus.