Czech playwright and former president Vaclav Havel
Former Czech president Havel wins Kafka Prize for literature
(AFP) – 18 hours ago
PRAGUE — Czech playwright and former president Vaclav Havel on Tuesday received the annual international Franz Kafka literary prize for his plays and essays.
An international nine-member jury picked Havel out of 14 authors as the 10th winner of the prize accompanied by a 10,000-dollar (7,200-euro) cheque, bestowed by the Franz Kafka Society commemorating the Prague-born author.
"Vaclav Havel is the author of vast literary-dramatic work... which in many respects influences Czech, European and world literature," the society said in a statement.
Jury member Oldrich Kral said at the ceremony on Tuesday the prize honoured "artistically exceptional literary work by a contemporary author, appealing to readers regardless of their origin or nationality."
Previous recipients of the prize include American writer Philip Roth, British playwright Harold Pinter, Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, French poet Yves Bonnefoy and Czech authors Ivan Klima and Arnost Lustig.
The 74-year-old Havel was a dissident under the communist regime that ruled Czechoslovakia from 1948-1989, before becoming hero of the 1989 Velvet Revolution which toppled communism in the country.
He was elected Czechoslovakia's president in 1989 and then became president of the Czech Republic formed in 1993, standing down 10 years later.
Havel is the author of several books including Letters to Olga (1983) and plays such as Garden Party (1963), Largo Desolato (1984) and Leaving (2007).