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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jerusalem Prize awarded to English author Ian McEwan

Writer of 'Amsterdam', 'Atonement' to be awarded prize reserved for novelist who best expresses the "freedom of the individual in society."

English author Ian McEwan will be awarded the Jerusalem Prize, Israel's highest literary honor for foreign writers.

McEwan will receive the prize in a ceremony that will take place on February 20th, the opening evening of the Jerusalem International Book Fair.

Murakami heads to Israel to accept prize

According to the jury's decision, "McEwan’s protagonists struggle for their right to give personal expression to their ideas, and to live according to those ideas in an environment of political and social turmoil. His obvious affection for them, and the compelling manner in which he describes their struggle, make him one of the most important writers of our time.

"For his love of people and concern for their right to self-realization, and in recognition of his artistic achievements, we have decided to award Ian McEwan the Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society."

The Jerusalem Prize is awarded biennially to a writer whose work best expresses and promotes the idea of "freedom of the individual in society." The theme was chosen both for its wider international appeal and for its internal Israeli resonance.

McEwan's works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last Rites; the Whitbread Novel Award (1987) and the Prix Fémina Etranger (1993) for The Child in Time; and Germany's Shakespeare Prize in 1999. He has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction numerous times, winning the award for Amsterdam in 1998. His novel Atonement received the WH Smith Literary Award (2002), National Book Critics' Circle Fiction Award (2003), Los Angeles Times Prize for Fiction (2003), and the Santiago Prize for the European Novel (2004). He was awarded a CBE in 2000. In 2006, he won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel Saturday and his novel On Chesil Beach was named Galaxy Book of the Year at the 2008 British Book Awards where McEwan was also named Reader's Digest Author of the Year. In 2010 he was honored to receive the Tulsa Library Trust's 2010 Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award.

The previous Jerusalem Prize was awarded to Japanese author Haruki Murakami in 2009. Murakami came to Israel to accept the prize despite calls by the Palestine Forum for the author to boycott the ceremony.

Other previous Jerusalem Prize winners include: Bertrand Russell (first winner, 1963), Simone de Beauvoir (1975), Milan Kundera (1985), Mario Vargas Llosa (1995), Susan Sontag (2001) and Arthur Miller (2003).