Irish author wins top Spanish literary award

4th June 2014, Comments 0 comments

Irish author John Banville, best known for his crime novels written under the pseudonym of Benjamin Black, has been awarded Spain's prestigious Prince of Asturias literature award, the prize jury said on Wednesday.

The 68-year-old edged out 23 other contenders to take the 50,000 euro ($68,000) prize, one of eight given in different fields by the Asturias Foundation each year.

The prize jury praised Banville for his "intelligent, insightful and original work as a novelist" and his "disturbing, critical crime novels".

"John Banville's prose opens up dazzling lyrical landscapes through cultural references in which he breathes new life into classical myths and beauty goes hand in hand with irony," it said in a statement.

Banville won the Man Booker prize, widely regarded as the most significant literary prize in English, in 2005 for his novel "The Sea" about a retired art historian who tries to reconcile him with the death of his wife at a seaside village.

His popular crime novels written under the pseudonym Benjamin Black featuring a hard-drinking pathologist called Quirke set in 1950s Dublin have been adapted for a BBC TV series.

Banville said in an interview with Britain's The Guardian newspaper last month that the character of Quirke had come from the "damaged recesses of my Irish soul."

"I sympathise with Quirke; he is a very damaged person, as many Irish people are from their upbringing," he added.

The Spanish awards, named after the country's future king Crown Prince Felipe, are presented in the northern city of Oviedo in October in a glittering ceremony broadcast live on Spanish television.

In addition to the cash, winners receive a sculpture designed by the late Catalan artist Joan Miro.

Previous winners of the literature prize include US writer Philip Roth, Canada's Margaret Atwood and Lebanese-born writer Amin Maalouf.


© 2014 AFP

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