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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 October, 2004, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
Hungarian wins German book prize
Peter Esterhazy
Esterházy is a member of one of Europe's most prominent aristocratic families
Hungarian novelist Peter Esterhazy has won the prestigious peace prize at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

The 15,000 euro (£10,400) prize was awarded to Esterhazy, 53, best known for his epic work Celestial Harmonies, at the festival's close on Sunday.

The book chronicles his aristocratic family's rise in the Austro-Hungarian empire and fall under communism.

Past winners of the prize, now in its 55th year, include Chinua Achebe and Susan Sontag.

Esterhazy told the audience at St Paul's church in Frankfurt that Europe was still struggling with its Nazi and communist past.

"A European consensus about our knowledge of ourselves as murderers and victims has not yet been established," he said.

He began writing in 1976 - his other books include Suspended, Little Hungarian Pornography and The Book of Hrabal.

"Your comic restlessness irritates readers," said Michael Naumann, the publisher of German weekly Die Zeit, at the ceremony.

Esterhazy has won most literary prizes in his native country, including the Kossuth Prize in 1996.

He has also been honoured with awards in Austria, Slovenia, France and Norway.

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