OVIEDO, Spain – Albania’s Ismail Kadare, considered one of the greatest European writers and intellectuals of the 20th century, has been named the recipient of the 2009 Prince of Asturias Award for Letters on Wednesday for the “beauty and profound commitment of his literary works.”
Kadare beat out fellow finalists Holland’s Cees Noteboom, Italy’s Antonio Tabucchi, Britain’s Ian McEwan, Czech Milan Kundera.
“Using everyday language which is nonetheless full of lyricism, Ismail Kadare narrates the tragedy of his land, an incessant battleground,” the jury said in its statement.
It added that Kadare gives life in his books “to old myths through new words” and “expresses all the grief and dramatic load of conscience.”
A total of 31 candidates from 25 countries were in the running for this year’s Letters prize, including Uruguay’s Eduardo Galeano Japan’s Haruki Murakami, Canada’s Alice Munro, Mexico’s Elena Poniatowska and Hungary’s Agota Kristof.
Canadian writer Margaret Atwood won the 2008 prize.
Past winners of the Prince of Asturias Award for Letters include Juan Rulfo, Mario Vargas Llosa, Camilo Jose Cela, Claudio Rodriguez, Carlos Fuentes, Francisco Umbral, Gunter Grass, Augusto Monterroso, Doris Lessing, Arthur Miller, Susan Sontag, Claudio Magris, Paul Auster and Amos Oz, who won the 2007 prize.
Since 1981, the Prince of Asturias Foundation, headed by Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe, has conferred awards for outstanding achievement in the areas of science, technology, culture, humanitarian endeavor, social activism and statecraft.
The prizes are accompanied by a cash award of 50,000 euros (about $70,000) and a statuette designed by Spanish artist Joan Miro.
The Asturias awards are regarded as the Nobels of the Spanish-speaking world.
The prizes will be handed out in October by Crown Prince Felipe during a ceremony at the northern city of Oviedo’s Campoamor Theater.
In recent weeks, the 2009 Arts prize was conferred on English architect Norman Foster; the International Cooperation prize on the World Health Organization; and the Social Sciences prize on English broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough.
The prize for Communication and Humanities was awarded to the Autonomous National University of Mexico and the Technical and Scientific Research prize was bestowed on Martin Cooper and Raymond Samuel Tomlinson, regarded as inventors of the cellular phone and e-mail, respectively. EFE
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