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Philip Roth wins Man Booker International Prize

AFP, Wednesday 18 May 2011
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Views: 1279

Philip Roth, America's most decorated living novelist, on Wednesday won the fourth Man Booker International Prize, beating off competition from 12 other authors for the 60,000 pound ($97,500) award.

The prize was first presented in 2005, and is given every two years for a body of work that was written either originally in English or is widely available in English translation.

The 78-year-old Roth, who could not travel to Sydney to receive the accolade because of back problems, said it was a great honour to be recognised.

"One of the particular pleasures I've had as a writer is to have my work read internationally despite all the heartaches of translation that that entails," the Connecticut-based author said in a statement.

"I hope the prize will bring me to the attention of readers around the world who are not familiar with my work. This is a great honour and I'm delighted to receive it."

Roth is one of the world's most prolific writers, and his acerbically humorous studies of Jewish-American identity have won adulation from critics and readers alike.

He is best known for his 1969 novel "Portnoy's Complaint", and for his trilogy comprising the Pulitzer Prize-winning "American Pastoral" (1997), "I Married a Communist" (1998) and "The Human Stain" (2000).

Aged just 26, he won the US National Book Award in 1960 for his first book, "Goodbye, Columbus", and in 1995 for "Sabbath's Theater".

He has also won two National Book Critics Circle awards and three PEN/Faulkner awards. In 2001 he was awarded the gold medal for fiction by The American Academy of Arts and Letters.

His most recent book, "Nemesis", was published in 2010.

"For more than 50 years Philip Roth's books have stimulated, provoked, and amused an enormous, and still expanding, audience," said the chairman of the Booker judging panel, writer and rare-book dealer Rick Gekoski.

"His imagination has not only recast our idea of Jewish identity, it has also reanimated fiction, and not just American fiction, generally."

The Man Booker International Prize is different from the better known Man Booker Prize, which is given annually to writers from the British Commonwealth and Ireland, in that it highlights one author's overall body of work.

It has previously been won by Albanian author Ismail Kadare in 2005, Nigeria's Chinua Achebe in 2007 and Alice Munro of Canada in 2009.

The award was somewhat overshadowed this year by British thriller writer John le Carre asking that his name be withdrawn from the shortlist because "I do not compete for literary prizes".

The 2011 prize was the first to include Chinese authors in Wang Anyi, whose Shanghai novels include "The Song of Everlasting Sorrow", and Su Tong, writer of "Raise the Red Lantern: Three Novellas".

Indian-Canadian Rohinton Mistry and US writer Anne Tyler were also in the running this year.

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