SYDNEY (AP) ― Philip Roth’s latest prize was not a unanimous choice.
The author of “Portnoy’s Complaint,” “American Pastoral” and many other novels on Wednesday was named as the winner of the Man Booker International Prize for fiction, a $100,000 honor given every two years. But one of the judges, publisher Carmen Callil, resigned in protest from the commission, telling the Guardian in London that he “goes on and on and on about the same subject in almost every book.”
The winner was announced at the Sydney Writers’ Festival.
Roth has long been attacked by feminists and others for his work, which has portrayed women as hostile ex-spouses or objects of crude lust. Callil has helped return the favor. She is publisher of the feminist Virago Press, which in 1996 released “Leaving a Doll’s House,” ex-spouse Claire Bloom’s most unflattering memoir of her time with Roth.
Author Philip Roth (AP-Yonhap News)
Rick Gekoski, chairman of the three-member judges panel, said at the Sydney festival that the decision was reached “slowly and with a great deal of discussion and a considerable amount of argument.”
“We have read our guts out for the last 18 months, so to do that and not come up with someone you can care about is a painful thing and not a desirable thing. I entirely understand that,” he said.
The Man Booker International Prize is awarded to a living writer for overall contribution to fiction. It is connected to, but separate from, the better-known Man Booker Prize for Fiction, awarded each year for a specific book. One contender for the international prize, spy novelist John le Carre, had previously asked to be withdrawn, saying a less famous writer should have a chance.
Roth said he was delighted to win the prize, which he called a great honor.
“One of the particular pleasures I’ve had as a writer is to have my work read internationally despite all the heartaches of translation that that entails,” Roth said in a statement. “I hope the prize will bring me to the attention of readers around the world who are not familiar with my work.”
Roth beat 12 other short-listed authors, including Australia’s David Malouf and Indian-born Canadian Rohinton Mistry.