Author Roth snubs award ceremony following row

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The Independent Online

Philip Roth has snubbed a prize-giving ceremony for the Man Booker International award after its judges became embroiled in a row over the decision to recognise his achievements.

Roth did not travel to London to accept his £60,000 prize – which recognises a novelist's overall contribution to literature – with the award instead being accepted by the writer and academic Hermione Lee.

A month ago, the prize's judges became embroiled in a spat over the decision to give Roth the award, with publisher and judge Carmen Callil "withdrawing" from the judging process in protest. "He goes on and on and on about the same subject in almost every single book," said Ms Callil, explaining her decision to withdraw. "It's as though he's sitting on your face and you can't breathe."

Ms Callil is a founder of the feminist publishing house Virago, and the author of Bad Faith, a history of Vichy France. The shortlist also featured Philip Pullman, Anne Tyler and Marilynne Robinson. The award's previous winners have included Ismail Kadaré, Chinua Achebe and Alice Munro.

"Philip Roth is the great literary adventurer, performer, and self-transformer of this and the last century," said Ms Lee.

"He has been one of the giants of American fiction for over 50 years, with a following across the world, and the award of the International Man Booker for his life's work is a welcome recognition of his audacity, energy, imaginative courage, comic bravura and historical seriousness."

Along with Ms Callil, the judges were novelist Justin Cartwright and book dealer Rick Gekoski. "In revisiting him over these last months, I've been struck by how various his work is, how styles and topics and themes appear, work themselves out, and morph into something quite different," said Mr Gekoski.

In March, British thriller writer John Le Carré asked judges to withdraw his name from the award's shortlist, saying: "I do not compete for literary prizes."

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