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Berger picks up Golden PEN award
08.12.09 | Catherine Neilan
John Berger has been presented with the Golden PEN award, which celebrates an author whose "body of work has had a profound impact on readers".
The writer, who won the 1972 Booker Prize for his novel G. (Bloomsbury), and whose most recent novel A-X (Verso) was longlisted for the Booker last year, was awarded the £1,000 prize money and commemorative golden pen last night (7th December) by fellow author Geoff Dyer.
Lisa Appignanesi, president of English PEN, said: "His novels have enlivened readers of fiction for generations. So, too, have his luminous essays, which bring the far as near as your hand: they make us look afresh at the world, at animals, at politics, at all our relations...
"Throughout, his passion for justice shines: most recently that has taken him into 'the world's largest waiting room' which is the West Bank, and 'the world's largest prison', Gaza. I can think of no better life in writing and no writer who does more honour to the Golden PEN than does John Berger by accepting it."
Dyer, who has previously edited a collection of Berger's essays, added: "In the unparalleled range of his work, in his extraordinary originality and innovation, in his unflagging commitment and limitless compassion, John Berger is exemplary both as a writer and as a human being."
Previous winners of the annual award include JG Ballard, Josephine Pullein-Thompson, Michael Holroyd, Doris Lessing and Harold Pinter.
As well being "accomplished writers", all recipients of award must have an "ethos [that] is consistent with, and supportive of, the values upheld by English PEN". The winner is elected by the trustees of English PEN, who represent a membership of more than one thousand writers and literary professionals.