Friday, October 12, 2007

Lessing wins Nobel Literature Prize

British author Doris Lessing has won the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Swedish Academy has announced.The academy described Lessing as "that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny." Few had tipped Lessing for the prize. At 87, she is the oldest person ever to win, and only the eleventh woman since it was first awarded in 1901.

Lessing is widely respected by her contemporaries as one of the most cerebral novelists of her generation. Author Margaret Drabble once described her as "one of the very few novelists who have refused to believe that the world is too complicated to understand.''

Born in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), race and empire are themes frequently explored by Lessing. In her debut novel, The Grass is Singing (1950), she examines the relationship between a white farmer's wife and her black servant.

Lessing's breakthrough came with The Golden Notebook (1962), a book that became a favourite for the feminist movement for its examination of the male-female sexual relationship from a woman's standpoint. Lessing herself has said she does not want to be viewed as a feminist icon. She caused controversy in 2001 when she said she found herself "increasingly shocked at the unthinking and automatic rubbishing of men which is now so part of our culture that it is hardly even noticed."

In her latest novel, The Cleft (2007), Lessing continues her exploration of the relationship between the sexes by constructing a mythical all female world into which men are suddenly introduced.Under My Skin (1994) and Lessing's other autobiographical book Walking in the Shade (1997) are widely regarded as the high-point of her career. They were praised for capturing the last days of the British Empire.

Also notable is Shikasta (1979), which marked a venture into science fiction, something of which the Swedish Academy was rumoured to disapprove. This was blamed by some for Lessing missing out on the prize in the past.

Galway Public Libraries hold over 40 of Lessing’s works across it's library network, There are approximately twenty five titles held in Galway City Library. All of these titles may be borrowed by library users either directly, or through their local library branch.

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