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Moroccan Writer Tahar Jelloun Wins 
International Impac Dublin Literary Award
The Canadian Press (CP)
17, 2004

DUBLIN (CP) _ Moroccan writer Tahar Ben Jelloun won the world's richest literary prize for a single work of fiction on Thursday for his novel This Blinding Absence of Light.

Canadian author Rohinton Mistry was among 10 finalists for the 2004 International Impac Dublin Literary Award for his latest novel, Family Matters.

This Blinding Absence of Light was a critically acclaimed best seller when it was published in France, where Ben Jelloun lives.

The book, which is translated into English, tells the story of the desert concentration camps in which King Hassan II of Morocco held his political enemies until September 1991 when international pressure forced the camps to close.

Ben Jelloun was born in Morocco in 1944 and emigrated to France in 1961.

The other novels on the short list were The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster,Any Human Heart by William Boyd, Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, The White Family by Maggie Gee, Balthasar's Odyssey by Amin Maalouf, Earth and Ashes by Atiq Rahimi, and House of Day, House of Night by Olga Tokarczuk.

The Impac prize is worth 100,000 euros (about $165,000 Cdn), making it the richest award of its kind for a single work of fiction.

Novels are nominated for the award by public libraries from around the world.

Mistry is a well-known and celebrated Canadian writer. His debut novel, Sucha Long Journey, was shortlisted in 1991 for the prestigious Booker Prize and won the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Governor General's Award.

His second book, A Fine Balance, was shortlisted for the Booker in 1995 and won the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Giller Prize.

Family Matters, which was also on the short list for the 2002 Booker, received 10 nominations for the Impac Dublin award from libraries as far away as Australia and South Africa. In Canada, the Halifax Regional Library and the Ottawa Public Library nominated Mistry's novel.

The Impac Dublin award is open to novels written in any language and by authors of any nationality as long as it has been published in English or English translation.

Last year's award was won by Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk for My Name is Red.

The prize was established in 1996 by Impac, a productivity improvement company, and Dublin city council.

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