Arts Council England has today announced the winner of The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2008
in association with Champagne Taittinger.
The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2008 has been awarded to the Belgian author Paul Verhaeghen for his novel Omega Minor
. Paul Verhaeghen is the first author to have both written and translated the winning title and has therefore won the full ?10,000 prize for his work translated from Dutch into English. The prize was presented earlier this evening at a ceremony at the Serpentine Gallery, London. The award, a partnership between Arts Council England and the Independent
newspaper, was made in association with Champagne Taittinger.
The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize celebrates an exceptional work of fiction by a living author which has been translated into English from any other language and published in the United Kingdom in the last year.
Moving back and forth between the main stages of the past century, Omega Minor
(translated from the Dutch and published by Dalkey Archive Press) is a tale of the survival of the soul. A novel of big ideas, the book’s whirlwind plot is set between Berlin, Boston, Los Alamos and Auschwitz, and takes in neo-Nazis, a physics professor who returns to Potsdam to atone for his sins, an Italian postdoctorate who designs an experiment that will determine the fate of the universe and a Holocaust survivor, who tells his tale to the willing ear of a young psychologist.
is Paul Verhaeghen’s second novel and his first to be translated from Dutch into English. Aside from his writing career, Verhaeghen also works as a cognitive psychologist; his work focuses on memory and the basic aspects of cognitive ageing. He currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, where he is associate professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Paul Verhaeghen will be donating his prize money to the American Civil Liberties Union in protest of US foreign policy.
Antonia Byatt, Director, Literature Strategy at Arts Council England, said: "I am delighted Paul Verhaeghen has won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. It is a highly ambitious novel which tackles some of the major issues of our time. He deserves such recognition in England, not only for his remarkable writing but also for his huge achievement in translating his own work."