US writer Philip Roth, whose works include the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “American Pastoral”, has been awarded Spain’s prestigious Prince of Asturias literature award, organisers said Wednesday.
The 79-year-old edged out 23 other contenders to take the 50,000-euro (60,000-dollar) prize, one of eight given in different fields by the Asturias Foundation each year.
The prize jury praised Roth for “his fluid, incisive writing”.
“Characters, events and plots form a complex view of contemporary reality torn between reason and feeling, such as the sign of the times and the sense of unease about the present,” it said in a statement.
“The narrative work of Philip Roth forms part of the great American novel, in the tradition of John dos Passos, Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Saul Bellow or Bernard Malamud.”
“American Pastoral” tracks the social upheavals of the 1960s and 70s as seen through the eyes of a once legendary high school athlete, Seymour “Swede” Levov.
It is the first in a trilogy that also includes “I Married a Communist” and “The Human Stain.”
Born in New Jersey on March 19, 1933, Roth had his first book “Goodbye, Columbus”, a collection of stories about Jewish life in America, published in 1959, and it immediately won him literary prestige in the United States.
He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for “American Pastoral” in 1997.
The Spanish awards, named after Crown Prince Felipe, are presented in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo, capital of the northern Asturias region, 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.
Former winners of the Asturias literature prize include Peru’s Mario Vargas Llosa, Germany’s Gunter Grass and Canada’s Margaret Atwood.