The author, a perennial contender for the Nobel prize in literature, was named winner of the Man Booker International at the Sydney Writers' Festival today, beating a stellar, if eclectic, shortlist. Also in the running were the British children's author Philip Pullman, award-winning Chinese writer Su Tong, American authors Anne Tyler and Marilynne Robinson, Australia's David Malouf and a reluctant John le Carré
This award, given every two years, honors a body of work instead of a single work. John le Carré, tried to have his name withdrawn from the shortlist.
But that was just the beginning of the controversy. While some are celebrating Roth's win with a collection of his most miserable quotes about life, others are up in arms over his win. Judge Carmen Callil quit in protest over the decision and is quoted in The Guardian:
I don't rate him as a writer at all. I made it clear that I wouldn't have put him on the longlist, so I was amazed when he stayed there. He was the only one I didn't admire – all the others were fine," said Callil, who will explain why she believes Roth is not a worthy winner in an outspoken column in the Guardian Review on Saturday 21 May. "Roth goes to the core of their [Cartwright and Gekoski's] beings. But he certainly doesn't go to the core of mine ... Emperor's clothes: in 20 years' time will anyone read him?
What do you think? Was she right or is Roth a literary giant worthy of the prize?