LEBANESE writer Rawi Hage yesterday won the €100,000 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award — the world’s most lucrative book prize.
The Beirut-born novelist was one of eight shortlisted in the competition, won in previous years by renowned authors Per Petterson and Colm Tóibín.
Hage was selected for his debut novel, De Niro’s Game, about two childhood friends growing up in war-ravaged Beirut who must choose between self-imposed exile or a life of crime at home.
“I am a fortunate man,” he said after being handed the award and cheque for €100,000 at a ceremony in Dublin’s City Hall.
“After a long journey of war, displacement and separation, I feel that I am one of the few wanderers who is privileged enough to have been rewarded, and for that I am very grateful.”
Hage, who lived through nine years of civil war in Beirut before emigrating to Canada, was chosen from 137 novelists nominated by 162 public libraries in 45 countries.
Irish writer Patrick McCabe was also on the shortlist for his evocation of modern rural Ireland in the critically acclaimed novel Winterwood.
The winning book, first published by House of Anansi Press in Canada, was chosen by a panel of five international judges.
Other finalists included: Javier Cercas for The Speed Of Light; Yasmine Gooneratne for The Sweet And Simple Kin; and Gail Jones for Dreams Of Speaking.
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