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Friday, 1 October, 1999, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
Grass wins Nobel literature prize
Guenter Grass
"Frolicsome black fables" win Guenter Grass a Nobel Prize
German novelist Guenter Grass has won the 1999 Nobel Prize for Literature.

In its citation, the Swedish Academy said it had awarded the prize to Grass because his "frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history".

"This prize is a great satisfaction for me," said the author from his home in Behlendorf, in northern Germany.

"I'm happy," he said. "I feel joyful and proud."


Guenter Grass is "joyful and proud" with his Nobel honour
Chancellor Gerhard Schröder called the writer a "competent critic of society."

"All Germans are celebrating with him," said the politician.

Among the prize-winner's best known works is The Tin Drum (Die Blechtrommel), a novel published in 1959 and subsequently made into an award-winning film.

The story explores the rise and fall of Nazism in Germany through the eyes of a young boy who refuses to join the adult world and stops growing.

"It is not too audacious to assume that The Tin Drum will become one of the enduring literary works of the 20th century," the Academy said.

Born in 1927, Grass himself lived through the Third Reich and World War II.

Guenter Grass
Grass will receive his $980,000 prize in December
The Tin Drum was set in the author's hometown of Danzig - a city on the Baltic coast which passed from German control after the war. It is now the Polish city of Gdansk.

In writing the book, Grass drew on the region's disputed boundaries and the wars they sparked.

"He comes to grips with the enormous task of reviewing contemporary history by recalling the disavowed and the forgotten: the victims, losers and lies," said the Nobel Prize citation.

The Tin Drum was his debut novel. It was followed by Cat and Mouse in 1961 and Dog Years in 1963, which also examined the scars left by Germany's stormy history.

Grass and Gordimer
Grass with fellow Nobel Prize winner Nadine Gordimer
Grass has long been a towering figure in European literary circles, winning numerous awards including the Thomas Mann Prize.

The author has also been vocal in the political arena. As an avowed pacifist, Grass opposed the basing of nuclear weapons on German soil.

Since his country's reunification, Grass has added his weight to campaigns against a rising tide of xenophobia and neo-Nazi violence.

With the awarding of the Nobel Prize, Grass has joined a literary elite.

Previous recipients of the prize include Ernest Hemingway, Jean-Paul Sartre, Samuel Beckett and Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

Grass will be presented with his $980,000 prize in Stockholm on 10 December.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Audio
Arts correspondent Razia Iqbal: "A giant of European literature"
Video
The BBC's Caroline Turriff: A unanimous decision
Video
The BBC's Arts Correspondent Nick Higham : "I'm happy he said"
See also:

30 Sep 99 | Scotland
Nobel failure for Scots author
01 Oct 99 | World
The aura of the Nobel Prize
01 Oct 99 | Europe
Guenter Grass: Sad optimist
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