Banville wins international award

Wed, May 25, 2011, 01:00

Writer John Banville has won the prestigious Franz Kafka Prize for literature.

The accolade, administered by the Prague-based Franz Kafka Society, is awarded annually for a body of work of “exceptional literary creation”.

The society was established shortly after the collapse of communism in 1989 to promote the legacy of Kafka and other German and Jewish writers from Prague.

The award – a scaled-down model of the monument to Franz Kafka in Prague and a cash prize of $10,000 (€7,100) - was established by the society in 2001.

The Wexford-born writer, chosen from a 15-strong candidate list, is the 11th recipient of the award.

Previous winners include British playwright Harold Pinter, US writer Philip Roth and Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. Czech writer and former president Václav Havel received the award last year.

“I’m thrilled of course and it’s a great honour to get this truly international prize. The list of past winners is very distinguished and I’m glad to be listed amongst them,” Banville told The Irish Times.

“I like to think of myself as an international author as well as an Irish author and I take this prize as a recognition of that fact.”

Banville, who also writes under the pseudonym Benjamin Black, has published 18 novels, including The Sea which won the Booker Prize in 2005.

The great German-language writer, Franz Kafka, famed for the existential novels, The Trial and Metamorphosis, was born in 1881 in Prague, which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Banville himself is no stranger to the city, having published Prague Pictures, Portrait Of A City, in 2003 as part of Bloomsbury's Writer in the City series.

His latest book A Death in Summer, by Benjamin Black, will be published in June. He will also be speaking at an event in the Dublin Writers Festival at the Fallon & Byrne restaurant on Exchequer Street on Sunday.