Kannada writer U.R. Ananthamurthy failed to win the Man Booker International Prize announced here on Wednesday with the American writer Lydia Davis picking up the £60,000 award given in recognition of a writer’s overall contribution to fiction.

Ms Davis, known for her short stories and translations, was praised for her ``imaginative’’ narrative.

“Lydia Davis' writings fling their lithe arms wide to embrace many a kind...There is vigilance to her stories, and great imaginative attention. Vigilance as how to realise things down to the very word or syllable; vigilance as to everybody s impure motives and illusions of feeling,” said Sir Christopher Ricks, literary critic and chair of the judging panel.

Mr. Ananthamurthy, a Jnanpith awardee and regarded as one of the most important voices of the “new movement” in Kannada, was in the race for one of the world’s most prestigious literary prizes along with his Pakistani peer Intizar Husain.

“I am honoured to be on a list with Intizar, who is a fellow author I have worked with in the past to break down cultural barriers between our countries despite all other differences that may exist,” he said.

The 80-year-old Mysore-born writer who flew in from India to attend the prize ceremony despite his poor health said :`` I hope this award arouses the curiosity of readers around the world and creates an awareness about spaces unfamiliar to many.’’

The jury praised him for the humanity of his works and their unconventional themes.

Mr. Ananthamurthy, whose work has been translated into English by fellow Kannada writer and poet A.K. Ramanujan, described English as a “very hospitable language’’ which created ``space for experiences from other countries”.

The jury praised him for the humanity of his works and its unconventional themes.

Other contenders were: Aharon Appelfeld (Israel), Yan Lianke (China), Marie Ndiaye (France), Josip Novakovich (Canada), Marilynne Robinson (U.S.), Vladimir Sorokin (Russia) and Peter Stamm (Switzerland).

Previous winners include Philip Roth, Alice Munro, Chinua Achebe and Ismail Kadaré.

An offshoot of the more famous annual Man Booker Prize, it recognises a writer for his or her continued creativity, development and overall contribution to fiction on the world stage.

“Both prizes strive to recognise and reward the finest modern literature,’’ a spokesperson of Man Group, which sponsors the two prizes, said.

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