Banville awarded Kafka Prize


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.

Banville, a former literary editor of The Irish Times, will receive the prize at a special awards ceremony in Prague in October. “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,” he said yesterday.

“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.

His latest novel as John Banville, The Infinities, won the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award at Listowel Writers’ Week last year.

Prague features in a number of Banville’s works, including his personal travelogue Prague Pictures, Portrait of a City, published in 2003. He will be speaking at a Dublin Writers’ Festival event on Sunday at the Fallon Byrne restaurant on Exchequer Street.