- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 13, 2011

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A member of the panel that awards the Nobel Prize for Literature says he and his colleagues aren’t biased toward European writers or against American writers.

Swedish Academy member and acclaimed poet Kjell Espmark (shel ESP’-mark) denied both contentions during a lecture in Rhode Island on Wednesday. He says nationality isn’t an important factor in selecting the prize winner.

Other members of the Swedish Academy have suggested both biases exist.

In 2008, the committee’s then-permanent secretary said European writers tend to beat out American writers because American literature is overly insular. In 2009, his successor worried the prize was too “Eurocentric.”

The literature prize election is by secret ballot among the 18 members of the Swedish Academy.

Espmark has been a member of the Academy since 1981.

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