The American author praises 'dear friend' who died last month and is 'delighted' to win Spain's prestigious literary prize
Won in the past by Fuentes himself, Günter Grass, Margaret Atwood, Paul Auster – and last year by the Canadian singer and poet Leonard Cohen – the €50,000 Asturias award is for an author "whose literary work represents a significant contribution to universal literature". Roth beat 23 other contenders from around the world to take this year's prize. He proclaimed himself "delighted" to win the award, and "thrilled that the jury should have found my work worthy of such an honour".
But the American author, already the recipient of the Man Booker International prize, the Pulitzer and the National Book award, said it was "particularly poignant for me to have gotten news of the award only a few weeks after the death of Carlos Fuentes, who received the award in 1994". Fuentes, Mexico's most celebrated novelist, died last month age 83.
"Carlos was a dear friend of mine and a generous colleague for many decades and, of course, he was among the greatest novelists writing in Spanish in our era," said Roth. "I wish he were alive so that I could hear his mellifluous voice at the other end of the phone offering me congratulations in his courtly way."
The Asturias judges said in a statement that "the narrative work of Philip Roth forms part of the great American novel, in the tradition of Dos Passos, Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, Bellow and Malamud". From the author's debut Goodbye, Columbus to his most recent novel, Nemesis, the jury said Roth's "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", and praised his "literary quality, [which] is displayed in his fluid, incisive writing".