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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 October, 2004, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
Austrian writer wins Nobel prize
Elfriede Jelinek
Elfriede Jelinek wins $1.36m for her work
Austrian novelist and playwright Elfriede Jelinek has been awarded this year's Nobel Prize for Literature.

The citation for Jelinek praised "her musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays".

Best known for her novel The Piano Teacher, which was made into a film by Michael Haneke in 2001, she is only the 10th woman to win the award.

Jelinek picks up the Swedish academy's prize of 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.36 million).

Read the opening passage of The Piano Teacher

She said the prize was "surprising and a great honour," she said.

But she said she was too ill to travel to Sweden to receive the award in December.

Speaking from her home in Vienna, she said: "I haven't had time to think yet. It is the biggest honour."

With reporters and well-wishers calling her and ringing her door bell, Jelinek said her plans for the coming days were simple: "To disappear."

The citation from the jury paid tribute to the way her "extraordinary linguistic zeal reveals the absurdity of society's cliches and their subjugating power".

One of her basic themes is the inability of women to "fully come to life in a world where they are painted over with stereotypical images", the academy said in its citation.

Winners to come

The Nobel prizes are named after Alfred Nobel, the wealthy Swedish industrialist and inventor of dynamite.

Earlier this week, researchers in medicine were honoured for their breakthrough studies on the human sense of smell, and physicists were given a Nobel for their pioneering work on the fundamentals of matter.

The chemistry prize went to three scientists for their studies of what might be called the "garbage cleaners" of biological cells.

The peace prize will be announced on Friday, and the final prize, that for economics, will be announced on Monday.

Back to top

An extract from the opening of the novel The Piano Teacher, as translated by Joachim Neugroschel.

"The piano teacher, Erika Kohut, bursts like a whirlwind into the apartment she shares with her mother.

Mama likes calling Erika her little whirlwind, for the child can be an absolute speed demon.

She is trying to escape her mother. Erika is in her late thirties.

Her mother is old enough to be her grandmother. The baby was born after long and difficult years of marriage.

Her father promptly left, passing the torch to his daughter. Erika entered, her father exited. Eventually, Erika learned how to move swiftly. She had to.

Now she bursts into the apartment like a swarm of autumn leaves, hoping to get to her room without being seen. But her mother looms before her, confronts her.

She puts Erika against the wall, under interrogation -- inquisitor and executioner in one, unanimously recognized as Mother by the State and by the Family.

She investigates: Why has Erika come home so late? Erika dismissed her last student three hours ago, after heaping him with scorn. You must think I won't find out where you've been, Erika.

A child should own up to her mother without being asked. But Mother never believes her because Erika tends to lie. Mother is waiting. She starts counting to three."

Profile: Elfriede Jelinek
07 Oct 04  |  Entertainment
Protein death process earns Nobel
06 Oct 04  |  Science/Nature
Nobel honours sub-atomic world
05 Oct 04  |  Science/Nature


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