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Atwood takes home (half a) million-dollar prize

Margaret Atwood has won the Dan David Prize for Literature: Rendition of the 20th Century. The Canadian author will share the $1 million (U.S.) prize with Indian author Amitav Ghosh, and each winner will share 10% of the winnings with graduate students working in literature.

The Dan David Prize is presented annually by Tel Aviv University in Israel, and includes winners in three categories: Past, Present, and Future (Atwood and Ghosh will share the prize for the Present category). A different discipline is chosen annually for each category, and this year’s literature prize honours the two novelists for providing vivid, compelling, and groundbreaking depictions of 20th century life, rousing public discussion and inspiring fellow writers. Here’s what was said specifically of Atwood’s work:

Her work enabled, for the first time, the emergence of a defined Canadian identity, while exploring both national and transnational issues, such as colonization, feminism, structures of political power and oppression, and the violation and exploitation of nature. She is the creator of a wide range of original fiction in which realism, myth, and parable are skillfully united.

Former laureates of the Dan David Prize include former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (in 2009, for leadership); former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore (in 2008, for social responsibility); and Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan (in 2008, for creative rendering of the past). Atwood and the rest of the 2010 winners will be honoured at a ceremony on May 9 at Tel Aviv University.