The Jerusalem Prize was presented by Mayor Nir Barkat to Japanese author Haruki Murakami during the 24th International Book Fair.
The Prize winner was selected by a panel of judges appointed by the Mayor, whose members were Mr. Dov Alfon, Chairman, Editor-in-Chief, Haaretz Newspaper, Prof. Dwora Gilula, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the author Etgar Keret.
Haruki Murakami is one of the great world authors of our generation, despite - or perhaps because of -the degree to which his native land, fellow countrymen and their customs take center stage in his work. His books have been translated into forty different languages and have garnered acclaim the world over, including in Israel where he is one of the more widely-read foreign authors.
The decision to confer the Jerusalem Prize on Murakami was made out of profound esteem for his artistic achievements and love of people. His humanism is clearly reflected in his writings.
Haruki Murakami has written 20 books, which have been translated into forty languages. Several of his works have appeared in Hebrew. Among these, Norwegian Wood, Wild Sheep Chase, Dance Dance Dance, Kafka on the Shore, and the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle reached Israel's best-seller lists and were well received by local critics.
Traditionally, the Jerusalem Prize is presented by Jerusalem's mayor to the winner, who comes to Jerusalem to receive it. The 2009 winner has expressed his intention of participating in the Fair.
Since 1963 the Jerusalem Prize has been awarded within the framework of the International Book Fair to authors whose writings have expressed the idea of the individual's freedom in society. It is regarded as one of the most prestigious of international literary awards. Past Prize laureates include: Bertrand Russell, Octavio Paz, V.S. Naipaul and J.M. Coetzee (all of whom went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature), Simone de Beauvoir, Arthur Miller, Susan Sontag, Mario Vargas Llosa, Milan Kundera, and others.
Haruki Murakama (1949-) is the Japanese author best-known and loved by the Western world, thanks in great part to the unique combination of Japanese and contemporary Western culture that typifies his work -a combination that the Western reader finds captivating.
Murakami is easy to read, but not easy to understand. His minimalist and lucid prose style makes him a highly accessible writer, but the full complexity of his literary world is evident even as one begins to read him. His novels generally feature an anti-hero who narrates the absurdities of his life story within a parallel universe of alienation - making Murakami one of a distinguished line of authors who have worked in this vein, from Franz Kafka and Albert Camus to 1971 Jerusalem Prize laureate Jorge Luis Borges.