Moroccan author Tahar Ben Jelloun today scooped the world’s richest literary prize for a work published in English.
The 60-year-old writer was awarded the €100,000 Impac Dublin Literary Award for his novel This Blinding Absence Of Light.
The book tells the story of desert concentration camps run by King Hassan II of Morocco.
He beat a shortlist of 10 novels, including works by the acclaimed writers William Boyd and Paul Auster.
A panel of judges, which included the novelists Anita Desai and Michele Roberts, described This Blinding Absence Of Light as a masterpiece dealing with appalling conditions of deprivation, brutality, inhumanity and silence.
They commended the novel’s “beauty and clarity of language, its formal restraint which gives it its subtle power, its commitment to its terrible subject, its passionate evocation of the human soul and the will to survive".
Tahar Ben Jelloun emigrated from Morocco to France in 1961 and is a regular contributor to the daily newspaper Le Monde.
His novels Solitaire, The Sand Child, Silent Day In Tangier and The Sacred Night have achieved wide acclaim around the world.