The intention of the Nordic Council Literature Prize is to increase interest in the literature and language of the neighbouring countries. It is awarded along with the Nordic Council prizes for music, film, and nature and the environment.
Per Petterson, winner of the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2009.
The prize has been awarded since 1962 for a work of imaginative literature written in one of the Nordic languages. This can be a novel, a play, a collection of poetry, short stories or essays that meets high literary and artistic standards.
The intention of the prize is also to increase interest in the literature of neighbouring countries as well in Nordic cultural fellowship.
A Nordic , set up by the Nordic Council of Ministers appoints the . This usually takes place at the beginning of the year. The committee is made up of two ordinary members from each Nordic country.
One of the Finnish members must be Finnish-speaking and the other Swedish-speaking. Members of the committee must be experts in the literature of their own country and as far as possible also in the literature of their neighbouring countries.
If works are nominated from the Faroe Islands, Greenland or the Sami language area, representatives from these areas become co-opted members on the Adjudication Committee.
The members and the substitute for each country make up the national Adjudication Committee, which must nominate no more than two literary works before 1 December.
No later than two weeks before the award ceremony the Nordic Adjudication Committee must announce the winner of the literature prize and justify their decision.
To be taken into consideration works must have been published for the first time during the previous two years, or in the case of a language other than Danish, Norwegian or Swedish, during the last four years.
The prize is administered by the secretariat for the Swedish delegation to the Nordic Council which works out of the Swedish Parliament and, like the other prizes, is worth DKK 350 000 (ca 47 000 Euro).
Many well-known writers have won theincluding Väinö Linna, Finland, Ivar Lo-Johansson, Sweden, Einar Már Guðmundsson, Iceland, Dorrit Willumsen, Denmark and Jan Kjærstad Norway.