May 19, 2011 / 5:37 PM / 8 years ago

Man Booker judge Callil resigns in protest over Roth win

Author Philip Roth poses in New York September 15, 2010. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

LONDON (Reuters) - Feminist author and publisher Carmen Callil resigned from the International Man Booker Prize judging panel in protest after it was awarded to U.S. author Philip Roth.

Callil said in the British media that Roth — who is renowned for his explicit portrayal of male sexuality — was a repetitive writer who did not deserve even to be on the longlist for the bi-annual prize awarded to a living writer for overall contribution to fiction.

The founder of feminist publishing house Virago, Callil was one of three judges on the prize panel and was overruled by fellow panelists Justin Cartwright, a South African novelist, and Rick Gekoski, a writer and rare book dealer, who awarded Roth the 60,000 pound ($96,960) prize.

“I think Carmen was just very disappointed, I think she thought we would find somebody different. But when we looked at all these people we honestly thought Roth was the giant amongst them,” Cartwright told Reuters on Thursday.

The shortlist for this year’s prize also featured Philip Pullman, Anne Tyler and Marilynne Robinson.

“He is a bit like the piece of grit that gets in an oyster and produces a pearl. He has done a lot to invigorate American literature.”

Pulitzer Prize-winner Roth’s critically acclaimed works include The Human Stain, American Pastoral and Portnoy’s Complaint, featuring a detailed description of masturbation.

But Callil was quoted in the Thursday edition of Britain’s Guardian newspaper as saying of Roth: “He goes on and on and on about the same subject in almost every single book. It’s as though he’s sitting on your face and you can’t breathe.”

Reporting by Nia Williams, editing by Paul Casciato

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