High 'impac' award goes to French novelist

Michel Houellebecq's "The Elementary Particles" has won this year's International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the world's richest prize for a single work of fiction (US$91,500).

Houellebecq is a French writer living in Ireland. "Elementary Particles," his second novel, was translated into English by Frank Wynne, who will share the cash prize. (The translation appeared in Europe under the title "Atomised.")

In winning the IMPAC Award, Houellebecq beat Booker Prize-winners "The Blind Assassin," by Margaret Atwood, and "True History of the Kelly Gang," by Peter Carey; "The Last Samurai," by US writer Helen DeWitt; "The Years with Laura Díaz," by Carlos Fuentes; and "The Keepers of Truth," by Michael Collins, an Irish-born writer who lives in Seattle.

The judges described "The Elementary Particles" as "a bleak yet often humorous portrayal of modern life as viewed by the novel's two protagonists – half-brothers with wildly different personalities seeking wildly different goals." (See Monitor review, May 2, 2000).

The Dublin City Library accepted nominations for the IMPAC award from 123 public libraries in 38 countries.

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