Italian writer wins prestigious German literary prize

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The Independent Culture

The 25,000-euro Peace Prize of the German Book Trade was awarded to the Italian writer Claudio Magris on Sunday on the last day of the Frankfurt Book Fair.

The prestigious award has been given every year since 1950 to a person who has "significantly advanced ideas of peace" through his or her literary, scientific or artistic work.

Magris, 70, is a novelist, essayist, newspaper columnist and academic specialising in central Europe.

In his acceptance speech he warned against political populism in Europe and criticised "invisible barriers" between immigrants and natives in major European cities.

And without directly attacking Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Magris said he hoped "as an Italian patriot that my country will not again be seen as a pioneer for the wrong reasons: after all we invented fascism in Europe".

Magris has won a number of high profile European literary awards prizes and has been tipped among the favourites to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.