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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 23:56 GMT
Cartoonist wins Guardian book prize
Author Chris Ware has won the Guardian First Book Award 2001 with Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth.

It is the first time a graphic novel has won a major UK book award.

The book is a semi-autobiographical account of a father's troubled relationship with his son, and judges praised it as "absorbing and exhilarating".

Ware, 34, who lives in Chicago, was presented with the 10,000 award at a dinner in London on Thursday.

'Originality'

Claire Armitstead, chair of the judges and literary editor of The Guardian said: "Jimmy Corrigan is a fantastic winner because it so clearly shows what the Guardian first book award is about.

"It is about originality and energy and star quality, both in imagination and in execution."

Zadie Smith's books is to be made into a TV programme
Last year's winner Zadie Smith's book is to be made into a TV programme
She said Ware had produced a book "as beautiful as any published this year", and challenged readers to "think again about what literature is and where it is going at the start of the 21st Century".

Work from Miranda Carter, David Edmonds and John Eidinow, Glen David Gold and Rachel Seiffert narrowly missed out.

Ware said he was honoured by the title.

He said: "It's been deeply flattering all along to even have been grouped with such distinguished company as the other authors.

"As a cartoonist, one isn't used to actually being taken seriously and treated with such respect."

Reward

The Guardian First Book Award aims to recognise and reward new writing across fiction and non-fiction.

Judges included novelist Jonathan Coe, Ahdaf Soueif and The Fast Show creator Charlie Higson.

Readers at Borders Books shops in London, Oxford, Brighton and Glasgow helped choose the shortlist.

Last year, Zadie Smith scooped the top prize for her novel White Teeth.

The best-selling novel is to be made into a TV series next year.

Commissioned by Channel 4, the adaptation will consist of four parts and will go into production in February to be screened in autumn 2002.

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Chris Ware, Author
"It certainly is a big surprise"
See also:

07 Dec 01 | Arts
Chris Ware: Comic pessimism
03 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Zadie Smith flies Brit lit flag
07 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Atwood wins Booker Prize
07 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Briton wins women's writing prize
21 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Ebook awards herald new age
05 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Atwood heads Booker shortlist
04 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Harry Potter's Whitbread revenge
05 Jan 00 | Entertainment
Heaney scoops Whitbread title
07 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Smith takes first book prize
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